International Wine Guild Blog

Happy Wine Month

Filed Under: Wine


Ask IWG: The Definition of Mead

Filed Under: Ask IWG

Oscar Monters from Austin asks the following: what is the legal definition of mead and its related labeling laws?

Great question. Mead (also called honey wine) is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It may also be produced by fermenting a solution of water and honey with grain mash; the mash is strained off immediately after fermentation.

Although called a 'honey wine', since it is not made from fruit or vegetables, it is legally classified as a beer by the TTB, just as sake is a beer.


Claude Robbins


Ask IWG: Acidity and Organic Pairings

Filed Under: Ask IWG

Camini from India asks: How do we calculate acidity in wines as well suggests food paring with Organic wines?

Thanks for sending in your questions.

There are several common acids found in wine.  First attack acids occur upon first drinking the wine.  These acids are malic and tartaric.  Malic acid is much like a granny smith apple, fairly tart.  Tartaric acid is found in wines that have been acidified, and it is bitter.  Second (or evolution) attack acids occur after the first couple of seconds of sipping the wine.  They are citric and malic.  Citric is found in lemons and tropical fruit.  Lactic acid is sour and can be found in milk.  A sip of buttermilk will never allow you to forget what lactic acid tastes like.  The only third (or finishing) attack acid occurs sometime after the first two.  It is succinc acid, which is somewhat bitter and a little salty.

With all these acids, they cause salivation, so even if you don't notice the flavor of the acid, you can always recognize acidity in wine due to salivation.  First attack causes salivation within the first second or so; second (evolution) attack acids cause salivation within two to four seconds; and the third (finishing) attack acid causes salivation at some point after this, and the salivation occurs from back to front.

To "calculate" how much acidity, just ask yourself how much it causes you to salivate.

To pair any wine, organic or not, with food, at its simplest, consider the "weight" of the food and the "weight" of the wine on the palate.  If the food "out-weighs" the wine, you'll never taste the wine.  If the wine "out-weighs" the food, you'll never taste the food.  Therefore, the best pairings will occur when the "weight" of the food and wine are the same.  Acid helps wash the palate clean of the food, aids in swallowing, and prepares the palate for the next bite.

Thanks again for writing to the International Wine Guild!

-Matthew Yoss


Ask IWG: Diabetes and Wine

Filed Under: Ask IWG

N. Callan from Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland asks the following:

What, if any, wines are suitable for diabetics? How can you tell by looking ay the label?

There are two issues in wine when considering diabetes: alcohol and sugar.  You need a wine that is low in alcohol and very low in sugar to be semi-safe for a diabetic to drink.  The only country I know that actually makes wine labeled for diabetics is Germany--and it is labeled (in German) as 'approved for diabetics' or 'genehmigt für Diabetiker.'  Although, by US standards, they would still be too sweet.

Of course, if you have low sugar you usually have high alcohol in wine - so producing a wine that meets both criteria is difficult.

Thanks for your question!


ASK IWG: How Tannins Are Felt in the Mouth

Filed Under: Ask IWG

P. Greer from Novato, Marin, USA asks the following:

Where in the mouth are different tannins felt? Grape skin/stem versus oak?

Thanks for your question!

Tannins typically attach down the tongue.  For most people, oak tannins attack the first third of the tongue and grape stem tannins attach the back (actually they can constrict the esophagus). As grape tannins become more intense they can also attack the teeth and gums. Grape skin tannins are much 'softer' and typically only attack the back of the tongue.

All tannins are also an astringent, so in addition to showing varying degrees of bitterness they also 'dry' out the mouth.  Grape stem tannins are the worst (most astringent), while skin and oak are less astringent and about equal.

Let us know if we can answer anything further,

Tynan Szvetecz, EWS, SWI
Master Candidate


Ask IWG: Understanding Calories and Sulfites in Wine

Filed Under: Ask IWG

Calories and sulfites in wineN. Callan from Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland asks the following:

I was recently asked about calories in wines. How do you know calorie count in wines? Is there any difference in grape variety, country, red or white? Is there any way of giving a rough estimate judging from origin, grape, alcohol %? I know there is the weight watchers wine range but its the tens of thousands of other wines available that i'm enquiring about.

I'm also wondering is it law now to state that wines contain sulphites? Most labels state this now but didn't in the past. I know they must be added so a wine will last awhile in bottle.


Thanks for sending in your #askIWG question!

Since 1988 (maybe 1987) it has been a Federal law that any product containing a carcinogenic must state the name of the carcinogenic on the lable - hence "contains sulfites."

There are two aspects of the law that are not often talked about.  First, there are exceptions to the law, for example, orange juice does not have to state it contains a carcinogenic.  In fact, OJ can contain as much as 10 times the amount of sulfites as wine.  Second, there is no reference to the quantity of the carcinogenic needed to replicate the cancer problems observed in the test animals (usually rats).  A person would have to drink about a 1000 gallons of wine a day for 10 years to replicate the levels of sulfites artifically placed in the test animals.  I don't think that is going to happen.

The law states carcinogenic "at any level" must be listed.  So, if you get do to parts per billion or parts per trillion it is still "at any level."

There are about 120 calories in a 4 oz glass of wine - red or white doesn't make a difference; there are substantially more calories in a late harvest or dessert wine.

For a complete overview of calculating calories in wine, visit this IWG blog post:

Learn all about these questions and more through the IWG Quick Class Finder:

Thanks again for your question!


Our Partners in China

Filed Under: NewsClaude in Hangzou

I recently returned from a 3 week trip to Hangzhou, China (about 110 miles SW of Shanghai) where we are working with the Hangzhou Wine Culture Center to teach IWG courses and seminars in China. I was there from June 28 through July 18. I posted a daily blog on my trip, which you can still go and read.

I did a 'train-the-trainers" session and certified five new Guild instructors. They are shown in the picture, from left to right, is Joyce Wu, Sara Chen , me, Dr. Marcus Lim, Jane Soon and Heren Huang

They have been very busy and have already taught two Guild Certification Seminars since my return. The green jacket is their uniform as an instructor - Dr. Lim is an avid golfer - the green color matches the Masters jackets.

Visit their website!


Claude in Hangzou

How to Beat the Recession

Filed Under: News

According to the Wall Street Journal, wondering how to recession proof a career is a concern for many people today. This is a result of the current state of the economy and the high unemployment rate in this country. Waiting for the economy to recover is one option - actively doing something to improve your 'marketability' and job skills is another, arguably more attractive, option. We couldn't agree more.

Enrolling in a continuing education program or course provides the best opportunity to learn the latest trends in a career field, along with improving your current employment skills. This is important regardless of trying to recession proof a job or not. Employers often retain employees who are aware of the latest industry trends, which facilitate increased productivity and improve the bottom line. Continuing education programs, like all of the Certification and CE programs offered by the Guild, that are designed to increase career skills are the path to job security in a recession or even during non-recession periods.

When people hear continuing education, they often immediately think of college. Pursuing a bachelor, master's, or other degree is not always the answer. Consider a certificate program or a single CE course designed to improve employment skills. For example, completing a wine certification program increases your value to an existing or potential employer - a job related certification may make the difference between whether you or another employee is being laid off.

A recessionary time is also a good time to prepare yourself for a career shift or to start a new business. In either case continuing education may open up a whole new set of opportunities for you. A lot of people have learned to use this to their advantage and turned it into an entrepreneurship, having started their own business and experienced more financial freedom than with their last employer.

If wine is a passion or avocation you would like to make your vocation we have technical and business courses to prepare you to change careers or start a new business.

Start winning the game of life. Create your own destiny - we can help.


Back To School - Fall Quarter Schedule

Filed Under: Classes

Now is a good time to pre-register for the Fall Quarter that begins October 3rd, 2010. Intensive study courses begin Octoberv11th. Here are the upcoming Level I, Level II, LevelI II and Continuing Education professional courses.

Guild Certification Seminar - Level I Certification

The basic wine certification seminar is our professional introductory course of study designed for individuals who desire to learn about wine. The focus is to develop a basic knowledge of wine, wine evaluation, wine description and wine and food pairing. September 18-19, Denver CO

1-Week Intensive Study Advanced Wine Course - Level II Certification

Level III Program: Guild Wine Master

All Level III courses are open to anyone who has completed the Level I Seminar or Level II Course. Level III courses being taught during the Fall Quarter of 2010 are:

Level III Intensive Study Courses:

Continuing Education courses are open to anyone who has completed the Level I Certification Seminar. Continuing Education courses being taught during the Fall Quarter of 2010 are:




A Few Surprises in the Latest Wine Data

Filed Under: News

The most recent data on wine growing, making and consumption has recently been issued. This data is a five-year rolling average; the most recent data is for the 2004-2008 period. Data is released every other year. Most of this data, except where noted, is from the Beverage Institute as well as the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the US Department of the Treasury.

These wine statistics are carefully scrutinized by many in the trade. Market decisions are made based on this data and national pride is at stake.

Per Capita Consumption Overall, wine consumption is up 3.5% across the globe - from 6.255 billion gallons to 6.472 billion gallons per year. Per capita consumption does not take into account drinking age.

However, per capita consumption by country is always very interesting. Here are the top 10 countries (and their % change since the last report) - be prepared for a few surprises:

  1. Vatican City State - 17.6 gallons per person (down 0.1%)
  2. Norfolk Island - 15.2 gallons per person (down 1.3%)
  3. France - 14.1 gallons per person (down 2.5%)
  4. Luxembourg - 13.9 gallons per person (down 4.9%)
  5. Andorra - 13.7 gallons per person (down 17.8%)
  6. Italy - 13.2 gallons per person (up 2.8%)
  7. Portugal - 11.7 gallons per person (down 4.3%)
  8. Slovenia - 11.6 gallons per person (up 46.7%)
  9. Falkland Islands - 11.1 gallons per person (up 63.9%)
  10. Croatia - 10.9 gallons per person (down 0.3%)

Where does the United States fit in? We are number 57, at 2.56 gallons per person (up 14.5%); we were #61. Worldwide average - 1.2 gallons per person (up 3.5%) for 223 reporting countries.

Total Wine Consumption This is the total consumption, per country, in millions of gallons of wine. While per capita consumption provides a clear picture of how much wine is being consumed each year by an individual, this category provides similar data for the entire country. Whereas size of country has no impact on the ranking for per capita consumption - in this category the total population of each country has a major impact. All 223 countries (territories, states, etc.) in the world are tracked.

  1. France - 1,360 million gallons (or 1.36 billion gallons)
  2. Italy - 769 million gallons
  3. United States - 762 million gallons
  4. Germany - 525 million gallons
  5. China - 375 million gallons
  6. Spain - 351 million gallons
  7. United Kingdom - 306 million gallons
  8. Argentina - 282 million gallons
  9. Russia - 281 million gallons
  10. Romania - 148 million gallons

The top 10 wine consuming countries represent 72% of total wine consumption. . Sometime in the next 5 years the US should become the number 2 consuming country in the world.

The United Kingdom is probably the most fascinating - it is #7 in consumption, yet only #58 in production (1.5 million gallons); that means the Brits import a staggering 99.5% of the wine they consume. (Of course, they have been importing at that level for the last 1000 years.)

Total Wine Production This is the total amount of wine produced by each reporting country, also in millions of gallons. This is the number whereby national pride is at stake.

Although consumption is up 3.5%, total production is down by 2.8%. The top 10 countries represent 82% of world production. Only 60 countries are tracked as wine producing countries.

  1. Italy - 1,360 million gallons (up 16.8%)
  2. France - 1,207 million gallons (down 20.4%)
  3. Spain - 971 million gallons (down 12.1%)
  4. United States - 641 million gallons (up 0.7%)
  5. Argentina - 397 million gallons (down 2.9%)
  6. Australia - 389 million gallons (down 2.0%)
  7. China - 383 million gallons (up 23.9%)
  8. Germany - 274 million gallons (up 2.5%)
  9. South Africa - 272 million gallons (up 11.0%)
  10. Chile - 230 million gallons (up 32.7%)

France and Italy trading places is a surprise to many, and a concern to the French. Obviously, the Italians are happy. France has been the leading wine producing country for at least 50 years.

The European Union (EU), comprised of 27 countries with a population of a little over 550 million people, produces 70% of the worlds wine. The top three wine producers in the EU (Italy, France and Spain) represent 48% of the entire world's production. All of the New World and Nouveaux New World combined produce 30% of the world's wine. However, the top three New World countries (USA, Argentina and Australia) represent 19% of the world's total production.

Total Wine Exported This is a much more difficult set of data to find - I am using International Trade Centre data, in the UK, for 2008. The top 10 countries compromise 88% of total world exports.

  1. Italy - 452 million gallons (33.2% of production)
  2. France - 364 million gallons (30.2% of production)
  3. Spain - 316 million gallons (32.5% of production)
  4. Australia - 218 million gallons (56.1% of production)
  5. Chile - 124 million gallons (53.9% of production)
  6. South Africa - 120 million gallons (44.2% of production)
  7. United States - 102 million gallons (15.8% of production)
  8. Argentina - 88 million gallons (22.2% of production)
  9. Germany - 83 million gallons (30.2% of production)
  10. Portugal - 82 million gallons (51.2% of production)

Other interesting facts: Moldovia (#12 on the list of wine exporting countries), exports 29.6% of its production - the taxes from the wine exports provide 15% of the income of the country.

France and the United States are the two key net importers of wine, after the UK of course.

France produces 1,207 million gallons and exports 364 million - leaving 843 million gallons consumed in-country. The total consumption for France is 1,360 million gallons; leaving 38% being imported from other countries (mostly EU countries).

The United States produces 641 million gallons and exports 102 million gallons; leaving 539 million gallons of US wine consumed in the US. The total consumption of the United States is 762 million gallons; leaving 29.2% being imported from other countries, worldwide.


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