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"Everyone loves a great glass of wine, but shopping for wine can be confusing."

Those were the words that Bethenny Frankel, the television personality who made her debut on "The Real Housewives of New York City" and later launched the Skinnygirl line of beverages, clothing and workout products, wrote on the label of her Skinnygirl California White Wine.

Some would agree, perhaps daunted by the array of grape names and appellations in the wine aisle. But is the answer to put more information on the label?

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is counting on the idea that consumers want to know nearly as much about what's in their wine, beer or spirits as they do when they pick up a breakfast burrito in the grocery store.

After nearly a decade of pressure from consumer groups, the TTB released guidelines last month on how wine, beer and liquor companies can tell consumers about the calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats inside the bottle.

The guidelines are voluntary, for now, but some industry veterans fear nutrition labels will become mandatory for alcohol companies down the road.

But when drinkers are kicking back to enjoy a Russian River chardonnay, are they really thinking about calories and carbs? And is there enough variation in calories from one glass of wine to the next to make the whole exercise worthwhile?

There are as many opinions on the matter as there are grape names, and whether wineries and breweries will choose to shoulder the cost of laboratory analysis and new labels remains to be seen.

"It's government interfering where we don't really need government to interfere," said Simon Inman, attorney at Carle, Mackie, Power & Ross in Santa Rosa. "We have enough regulation to deal with as it is. ... I'm just wondering what useful info we're going to impart on consumers. The label is already crowded."

But consumers are increasingly interested in learning about the source of their foods, and exactly what they're about to ingest. And with smartphone applications, it's easier than ever to track the calories one consumes throughout the day.

Typically, a glass of red wine packs about 125 calories, while white wines contain about 121 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Chardonnay weighs in at 123 calories and 3.2 grams of carbohydrates, while a meatier varietal like zinfandel contains 129 calories and 4.2 grams of carbs. Most wines contain no fat and virtually no protein. Sweet desert wines can contain as much as 165 calories and carbohydrates can reach around 14 grams in a 3.5 fluid ounce serving.

Some wine companies are making the bet, and the investment, that consumers will want to know more about the nutritional characteristics of their wine.

Pedroncelli Winery in Geyserville is one of them. The company added a QR code, a type of bar code, to its white wines from the 2011 vintage and its red wines from 2012. Scanning the code with a smartphone launches a webpage that lists facts about the wine, such as its alcohol level, acidity, how long the juice was in oak barrels and other details oenophiles like to know. Over the next few months the winery will work to add nutritional information such as calories and ingredients, said Julie Pedroncelli St. John, vice president and marketing director.

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"We want to be transparent," she said. "There's nothing to hide as far as the winemaking goes. So if people are curious we'll provide them with the information."

Pedroncelli Winery is responding in part to consumers who have emailed to ask whether the wine contains animal products. Egg whites are sometimes used by vintners in the process of "fining" the wine, or removing tannins or other components that might be perceived as harsh or bitter. Pedroncelli Winery uses egg whites while making its red wines, but the ingredient is removed when the wine is filtered, Pedroncelli St. John said.

"You actually don't end up with egg white in your wine, but it was used in the process," she said. "And that, I think, is what would make vegans reconsider."

The listing of ingredients was not a part of the TTB guidance, but it could be in the future.

The issue of whether nutritional information can or must be included on wine and beer bottles has been percolating since about 2003, when the low-carbohydrate diet fad piqued the interest of alcohol companies that wanted to list carbohydrates on their labels. A low-carbohydrate wine called One.9, which contained 1.9 grams of carbohydrates, was introduced by Brown-Forman around that time. Then in 2005, the TTB opened its doors to comments about the proposed rulemaking and it was inundated with 18,600 replies, said Thomas Hogue, spokesman for the TTB.

The Wine Institute pushed back against the proposed guidelines. The San Francisco trade group argued that nutrition labeling should be voluntary, not mandatory, because requiring the additional information would add expense to the winemaking process and delay the release of wines.

"We've always been supportive of voluntary labeling, but not mandatory," said Wendell Lee, general counsel of the Wine Institute. "Making it mandatory requires a lot more in terms of the economies of wine production. People spend a lot of money on their labels already, and it takes some time to make sure your labels are accurate."

Unlike food products, wine grapes change from year to year. To print accurate nutrition information, a winery would have to test its ingredients prior to bottling, print a new label and then seek approval for that label from the TTB, potentially delaying the release of the wine by months, Lee said. Otherwise, a company could mistakenly print inaccurate information on the label and face enforcement action from the TTB.

Instead, the Wine Institute suggested wineries should be given a green light to list typical values, rather than exact values, if nutrition labels become mandatory.

"That way it saves us money, and it gives us a way to make product deadlines and labeling deadlines and get the product to market without additional delays," Lee said.

Meanwhile, products like Skinnygirl Wines that cater to consumers who want low-calorie options continue to grow in the market.

Treasury Wine Estates also has a product line designed to cater to the calorie-conscious. Its "Skinny Vine" line includes "Slim Chardonnay," "Mini Moscato" and "Thin Zin," a white zinfandel. Slim Chardonnay contains 86 calories in a 5 ounce pour, compared to other chardonnays which are typically 110 to 120 calories per serving, Elizabeth Hooker, public relations director for Treasury, said in an email.

"Unlike almost all other consumer categories like beer, soft drinks, salty snacks, and even ice cream there was not a compelling low-calorie wine on the market," Hooker said. "We saw an opportunity to create a new segment in wine and give consumers a way to consume fewer calories while still enjoying a high quality, richly flavored selection of wines."

Skinny Vine labels already contain the alcohol level, calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat content, so the ruling won't prompt any changes, Hooker said.

The slim chardonnay is 8.5 percent alcohol by volume, a level achieved by removing some of the alcohol through a filtration process.

Even Weight Watchers is competing in the wine category after it partnered with Australian company McWilliams Wines to make a wine that contains 5.5 percent alcohol by volume, about the same as many craft beers.

Some in the beer industry are welcoming the new labeling guidelines as an opportunity for brewers to show the world that beer doesn't necessarily make people fat.

"There's a misperception about the 'beer gut' and that beer is fattening and filling," said Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Beer Association. "It has always struck me as being very odd and strange to see somebody eating a big bowl of peanuts at a pub and be drinking a light, low-calorie beer that has no flavor to it. In the meantime, they're consuming the caloric equivalent of four or five beers."

Craft brewers stand to gain if brewers eventually have to list ingredients, because they tend to use fewer chemicals than major brewers, McCormick said. The calorie counts range from 60 to 70 at the low end to more than 300 at the high end for a 12-ounce pour, he said.

Whether the extra information alcohol companies could include makes an impact on sales remains to be seen. Other qualities like organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed grapes have had little impact on consumers' decisions to buy wine, said Ross Goodwin, principal of Bennett Valley Group, which conducts research on direct-to-consumer sales.

"It was not as important as having unique and exclusive wines, limited production wines, friendly service. Issues like that are far more important," Goodwin said. "There are a number of wineries in our local area that are really big on that, and they think it's a point of differentiation, and it's not."

The marketing of brands with words like "skinny" is fraught with peril, said Allison Crowe, director of winemaking for Plata Wine Partners, the winemaking arm of Silverado Premium Properties, and winemaker at Garnet Vineyards.

"There some folks that are like 'Wow, that's really offensive, some of the names of the products,'" Crowe said. "What message are we sending to young women, and to all of us, when we have the message that you should be concerned about your calorie consumption? Or if you want to stay skinny, you've got to drink this beverage?"

Although she's a mother in her 30s who's conscious of her calorie intake, and she respects that some consumers really want the information, Crowe isn't planning to switch to low-calorie brands anytime soon.

"I'm probably going to keep buying my favorite wines, and not sacrifice taste for a 10-calorie difference," Crowe said. "If you start removing alcohol, you really change the flavor of that beverage. You start to have real mouth-feel effects, and the whole wine starts to smell and behave and taste differently on the palate."

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