The Perils Of “Wine Product”

One last point about our New York City adventure:  it taught me a valuable lesson about carefully reading the labels on unfamiliar food products.

We were buying food in the little market near our apartment.  I looked for a bottle of wine and there, in the beer aisle, were a few bottles.  Not much of a selection, and it was a label I didn’t recognize — Chateau Diana — but I reasoned that you cannot properly celebrate the holidays without wine, so I bought a bottle.  After we got the stuff back to the apartment and Russell arrived, he chuckled and explained that we had not bought wine, but instead had purchased something called “wine product.”  New York City residents are clued in, but I’d never heard about it.

Apparently “wine product” exists because the law in New York City doesn’t permit grocery stores to sell real wine.  “Wine product” skirts that law and allows markets to sell a wine-like substance.  New York law describes “wine product” as “a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as ‘wine coolers’).”  How many bottles of “wine product” are purchased by unwitting tourists, like us, who are unaware of this nuance of New York law?

After Russell filled us in, I went out and bought some real wine that we enjoyed during our visit.  However, because I was curious, and because I hate to let things go to waste, I did drink the “wine product” one evening.  It was harmless and instantly forgettable — which I guess is the point.  Next time I’m buying wine in the Big Apple, I’ll be wiser.

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