If there’s one thing the American wine industry needs, it’s that the laws surrounding alcohol get a little bit simpler. This seems to be happening slowly, if only in the smallest of steps.
The latest $ 900 billion COVID-19 6,000-page bill contained numerous regulations, laws, and resources, including a significant, permanent revision of the tax rates that wineries, distilleries, and breweries pay based on their production levels and their alcohol strength Products.
Under this set of rules, collectively known as the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, taxes have been lowered for smaller manufacturers in general, which should help many of them. Wineries have long been forced to pay higher taxes on wines that produce over 14.5% alcohol (causing many to “fumble” the numbers on their labels to avoid paying the higher tax rate).
To make matters worse, the tolerances for measuring alcohol content were always loose (and made cheating even easier). Wines below 14% alcohol have a tolerance of plus or minus 1.5% in their specified alcohol. This means that a wine labeled with 13.9% alcohol could be technically legal even if its actual alcohol content is 15.4%. Wines with more than 14% alcohol are given a 1% tolerance, which means 14.8% on the label can mean 15.8% in the bottle.
The previous excise tax plan, which imposed higher taxes ($ 0.50 per gallon more) on wines with more than 14% alcohol, was a strong incentive for any winemaker whose wine was less than 15% alcohol to go through the alcohol content on the Lying label. And the greater the production, the greater the incentive to falsify the figures.
In the future, all wines below 16% alcohol will be taxed equally. Will this result in more accurate alcohol labeling for most table wines? It remains to be seen. Of course, most consumers would never even notice.