What is Table Wine? (Meaning & Standards)

Table wine is a term you will likely not hear every day. However, it is a phrase you will probably come by at one point if you become enamored with wine.

Wines are no simple beverages. These drinks are complex in more ways than one. One can say, wines are Rubix’s Cubes or puzzles in liquid form. The taste, smell, and feel can mystify you, but so can the many terms and phrases. They always seem to leave you with questions one way or another!

You do not need to worry, though. You came to the right place for this wine worry of yours. So, what is table wine? Let us answer this question today.

What Is Table Wine?


The answer to this question is not that simple. The meaning of table wine can vary. It can depend on who you are talking to, where you are, and many other things.

It could be in reference to quality standards or wine characteristics. It can be a formal term or a slang. As you can see, it is a simple term, but there are many ways to use it, and there is more than one way to answer the question.

Generally, the term refers to wines for meals, and often, these wines are also affordable and crowd pleasers. Easy and simple. Right? There is a problem with this definition, though.

First, most – if not all – wines can complement a meal. On the other hand, price points and likes and dislikes can be subjective terms. For one, what might be cheap for one might not be for another. On the flip side, every wine might please a wine lover, but no wine could please everyone. As you can see, in this case, table wine could refer to any wine then.

We have a definition with this one, but we are practically back at square one. With that, let us take a look at the other ones.

What Is Table Wine by American Standards?


The American definition is a little more specific. Here, table wine is any wine with low alcohol levels. The ABV (alcohol by volume) should not exceed 14%. Additionally, a table wine should not be fortified wine and often not sweet or sparkling wine either.

This definition mainly focuses on the alcohol content. As you can see, this one is more specific but still easy to grasp. However, that is not the case with the European definition, which we will look at later. Before that, let us quickly clarify the difference between table, regular, and port wines.

Table Wine VS Regular Wine

Table wine and regular wine are not the same. While some might mix up the two with how general the definitions of the two can be, the two point to different things. Here, the term table wine points to the alcohol content. On the other hand, the phrase regular wine can mean any wine, or it could talk of age, quality, and even rarity. As you can see, they are on different plains.

A table wine can be a regular wine, though. On the other hand, a regular wine could also be a table wine. Again, that is because the two terms do not point to the same thing.

Table Wine VS Port Wine

Port is another wine often confused with table wine. However, the two are also not the same.

What Is Table Wine by European Standards?


Now, the European definition is much more specific than the other two. As we have said, it is also much more complex. All wines in this continent fall into one of two groups. All wines here are either table wines or quality wines. The Europeans have a guideline to tell which of the two lots of wine will fall.

Simply put, those under the quality wine (also known as quality wines produced in specified regions) group are those that followed and passed the strict rules. Some regulations include getting specific grapes from a particular place and using a certain technique to make the wine.

On the other hand, table wines are the wines that do not follow the set rules. To put it simply, anything that did not make the cut. This definition mainly focuses on labels and following procedures and regulations.

Table Wines and Quality Wines

Not everyone wants a quality wine label. All the rules, laws, and regulations to pass do not seem to be worth the trouble for some. On the other hand, some are even trying to avoid it. Like the table wine label, the quality wine label also has bad air around it.

Also, it might be the best time to note that there is more flexibility in making table wine. It allows for more creativity and experimentation. It lets winemakers let their imagination fly; their passion roam.

While quality wine is supposedly superior and table wine, on the other hand, is inferior, that is on the basis of the guidelines. Take the guidelines away, though, and it is a different story.

How Not to Describe Table Wine


The term table wine has many uses and definitions. There is a definition stuck to it that did not age well like wine is supposed to, though.

The term table wine sometimes bears bad air around it. Some have come to use and know this term to mean a wine with poor qualities. While some wines labeled as table wines have a lower caliber than others, the phase should not immediately imply a wine known as such is not of quality.

There are table wines that are as good as what is considered superior wines, and there are those that are even better. Additionally, some great wines start as table wines, so never judge immediately!

The term table wine can mean many things but it does not mean poor quality wine. So far, the definitions we have given you are old. Things have changed, though. While those meanings could still be true today, those are not the only definitions that exist in this modern age. Let us talk about how the term is in use today.

Table Wine Today


As we have said earlier, table wine is not a term you will hear often, and there are several reasons for that. First, it is because it is an old term and is no longer used by many. Officially, it is a term that has been dropped.

Also, as we have just discussed, some are not happy with the negative meaning it has gotten throughout the years. Additionally, as you have seen, it has many definitions. It could be a confusing phrase to use unless it is a discussion with someone familiar.

Of course, the term could still mean the definitions we listed above. It could point to the price point. It could reference the quality. It can even denote character. Today, though, many use the term more freely. Some use it quite literally. As long as it is a wine and can stand on the table, some already consider it table wine.

With all that, do not hesitate to ask what someone means when they use the phrase. It might be the only way to ensure the two of you are on the same page. Also, you might be surprised at what new definition you can hear!

How to Get a Good Table Wine


You now know the many uses of the term table wine. Now, you might want to add some to your rack. Well, let us help you in finding good ones.

Check the Price

The price should not be your only means of finding a good table wine. However, it could be a handy locator. If you are trying to pick between two wines, you might want to get the one that is worth a few more bucks.

Know the Producers

This one is a little trickier, especially if you only started your venture into these drinks. If you know what producers to look for, you will not only find hidden gems. You will also find the best value for your money.

Find a Trusty Wine Shop and Sommelier

Whether you know a thing or two about wines, another pair of eyes, ears, and set of taste buds could be great help. A trusty wine shop and sommelier will literally know where the hidden gems are! Do not be afraid of striking up a conversation and asking around if you are not sure what to get.


What is table wine? Today, we discussed how there are many ways to answer this question.

Generally, table wines are cheap wines, good food partners, and crowd pleasers. After that, we discussed how the American definition refers to the wine’s characteristics, and the European one points to the quality. Next, we addressed the bad air surrounding table wines. Finally, we discussed how the term is used today.

We hope we can help you with this wine worry. If you have more, feel free to give our other talks a visit. That is all from us for now. Cheers!

What is Table Wine

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