While perusing through the supermarket aisles looking for the perfect wine, you may linger for several minutes to read labels and look for something a bit familiar. You may see wines worth reading about such as a Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, a Rosso di Montalcino DOC or a Super Tuscan IGT. Then slowly, your gaze goes towards the lower shelves where the lesser known wines are displayed – and you see the imaginative name of “table wine”.
In essence, all wines are “table wines” aren’t they? I mean, we drink our wine at the table. No, it’s not so. The label does not refer to where our wine is consumed, by any means. Let’s clarify what table wine is. It is the least noble of all wine categories, a wine that derives from the vinification of a variety of grapes, without any information regarding origin, territory, vintage etc. These grapes may come from just about anywhere!
It is no coincidence that wines with the label “table wine” have no restrictions on displaying vintage and origin, precisely because the grapes have no fixed age or origin. Of course, common sense tells us that even if we do not know where the grapes come from, there are still rules to the table wine. No grapes which have gone off can be used to make this type of wine, they must be certified and authorized for consumption.
The main thing that distinguishes table wine from a more noble denomination is therefore the fact that there is no discipline regarding origin, vintage, refinement, yields for hectare and so on. These are parameters which become increasingly stringent when we go further up the denomination scale from IGT to DOCG. Table wine is often found in bulk and is used for large-scale retail sale.
So now what? Does that mean you should spend a fortune on wine and steer clear of table wine? Given that a DOCG wine will be of superior quality to table wine in 100% of cases, you need not despair! There are plenty of reasonably priced wines which can easily be recommended by your local wine shop. Ask the experts to help you find a wine that is worth spending a few more dollars, an IGT or a DOC. In short, no wine that costs $5 will be worth your table.