IF WE CAN’T CALL IT PORT ON THE LABEL, WHAT DO WE CALL IT?

Since the law in 2005 no one can call their wines one of their safeguarded regional “place” names. These are: Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Claret, Haut-Sauterne, Hock, Madeira, Malaga, Marsala, Moselle, Port, Retsina, Rhine, Sauterne, Sherry and Tokay. The only wineries allowed to still use these names is if they were using it prior to the law and have been grandfathered in. (Also, before you ask, according to the TTB, you still cannot use the place names even if you are buying it from someone who has the name grandfathered in.)

Many place names have easy workarounds, such as Sparkling Wine for Champagne. But the one that is the biggest hiccup for wineries is an alternative name to Port. Some simply call it “Dessert Wine” on the label, but this to me, as a consumer, is troublesome. I am not all that fond of Port but love dessert wine. Port is fortified wine, which means they’ve used an alcohol additive such as brandy. Dessert wine doesn’t use an alcohol additive but instead lets the natural sugars ferment by leaving the grapes on the vine longer.

After doing much research into alternate names for Port, the one that my clients have found the most success with is “Forté.” It’s close enough to the word Port, and more elegant that Forte.

Names you CANNOT call your port wine:

  • Fortified Wine (strangely enough, because that is what it is)
  • Nothing which contains the four letters consecutively port
  • Portly Dessert Wine
  • Export
  • Pour-it
  • Pour’t
  • Portage
  • Portal
  • Port-style

Some have been approved using these two names below, while others have not:

  • “Metodo Portuguese” which means (Portuguese method)
  • “Pour it”

Get Creative:

Some wineries use names such as: Fort, and “WSA,” which refers to “wine spirits additions,” “USB” (ports), “Not Starboard” (Starboard alone is trademarked already), Seriously crafted dessert wine.

Not the Four Letter Word:

The TTB firmly states that you cannot use any form the the four letters PORT in sequence, anywhere on the label, front or back. However, I often run across port in wineries where they clearly print the words port, but fluff it a bit, like in “Portly” even though they aren’t grandfathered in to use it. I ask how they got approved but they just answer, “depends on who approves the application”. It just makes me wonder if they legally filed the label. I would love to hear your comments or experiences using the word Port on your label or other clever names.

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