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A fellow noder requested that I do a writeup on this, and far be it from me to refuse. A table wine, roughly speaking, is a wine that contains no more than 14% alcohol and is designed to be imbibed alongside food. Interestingly, this covers pretty much everything we think of as "wine," but would exclude the excellent 1997 Geyser Peak Alexander Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon I had the other night.

But I suspect the term has remained in some use primarily in order to distinugish these wines from dessert wines (such as Reislings) and fortified wines (such as port--yum). Not infrequently, you will see "Red Table Wine" on a bottle's label, but it really doesn't tell you much.

HOWEVER: French wines are classified according to a four-tiered system:

  1. Appellation controlee (the best)
  2. "Vins delimite, qualite superieur" (VDQS) (you don't see a lot of these in the US)
  3. Vins de pays--which are often marketed by grape variety and can offer good value if you know what to look for. A good example is the 1998 Triennes Viognier I reviewed.
  4. Vins de table--"table wines"--which are the lowest of the low (probably grown in someone's backyard and fermented in a cellar). Do NOT spend good money on a French vin de table.

Back to Rook's Wine Reviews

The same is true for Italian wines: Vino da Tavola is not a protected name. You can make anything that qualifies as vino (that's to say, fermented Vitis Vinicola without sugar added), and call it Vino da Tavola.
This is contrasted with DOC, which is almost usually higher quality, with the possible exception of the case of a truly wonderful very small producer that is doing experiments and has not bothered to register his stuff as DOC.

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