Monday, June 17, 2024

How To Read Wine Labels

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How to Read the Wine Labels

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Country Or Region Of The Wine

Typically, wine labels will talk about where the wine has been produced. You will either find that information at the bottom or the top of the label. If not the country, then the exact region from where the wine has been produced will be specified.

A good rule of thumb is that a wine is likely to be more expensive if the location given is more specific. And hopefully, the quality will be superior too. Niche wines are likely to be priced higher than wines produced in generic vineyards.

A Vintage Means A Yearbut Each Vintage Is Completely Different

Youll hear winemakers, sommeliers and fancy wine drinkers drop the term vintage often. This is referring to the year the grapes were harvested for said bottle. Each vintage is truly a different bottle of wine, notes Sager. Dont expect the 2015 Tortoise Creek Merlot to taste the same as the 2016 Tortoise Creek Merlot, he says, noting that non vinttage wines or multi-vintage wines are lower in value due pulling from multiple vintages to control the flavor. You probably wont galavante around your household talking about what vintage youre drinking to your friends, but its beneficial to look for the year on the bottle when seeking a more quality wine.

Areas that struggle with moisture, pressure, and/or cold are ones to watch out for in terms of shifts in quality from vintage to vintage such as Bordeaux, Loire, and Burgundy, stays Tanghe. Warmer areas are typically more reliable, but any good producer can still make good wine in a tough vintage.

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Reserve Wines = Aged Wines

The wine will have seen more aging before the producer released it, and will show more savory and exotic character on the nose and palate, says Tanghe. Younger wines show more fruit while older wines offer a much broader spectrum of organoleptic diversity. Most winemakers hold on to reserve bottles vs. seling immediately, therefore holding a higher price tag. Some producers use the term as label trickery but for reputable winemakers and wineries reserve wines are a way to showcase their best product.

Next Take A Closer Look At The Region Or Sub

How to Read a Wine Label

It may sound ridiculous, but wines actually differ greatly by region. For instance, you might assume all French red wine is similar, but it varies tremendously depending on what specific region it’s from. A red wine from Bordeaux, for example, is very different from a red wine from Burgundy. The wines come from different types of soil, are grown in different climates, and are made from different grapes.

The same goes for just about any country in the world. Luckily, most countries have developed a system of appellations where wine is grown. So when a wine lists a certain wine region, pay attention!

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It Gives Credit To Its Regional Style

This exists more in old-world regions like Tuscany and Bordeaux. But some new-world regions have also been known to include this element in their labeling. For example, Oregons Domaine Divio gives credit to the lean and classic appearance of Burgundy with the sophisticated font, paper stock, and subtle colors.

All The Relevant Information

For this, youll have to take a look at the back label. Viticulture, vintage, clones, vineyards, and barrel management are all examples of relevant information that should be mentioned on the label. Although this doesnt matter to a lot of people, its always good to know how your bottle of wine was made.

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Which Us State Has The Strictest Wine Labeling Laws

Oregon has the strictest wine labeling law in the United States, especially in regards to the origin and variety of the grape. For example, if a winery displays a state, county, or country as their appellation, a minimum of 75% of the grapes must be grown from the region mentioned. These rules have been created to maintain the quality and integrity of their wine.

Chteau Simone Palette Ros

Wine 101: How to Read a Wine Label

Here is another traditional French label, from the small appellation of Palette, in Provence. It, too, has a coat of arms and depictions of grapes. But Palette is a simpler region than Burgundy, with only a handful of producers and without the hierarchy of vineyards and other distinctions, so the label neednt offer as much information.

1. Château Simone The name of the producer, in a kind of precursor to an Art Nouveau font, is superimposed over a rendering of the chateau and its vineyards.

2. Palette Appellation Palette Contrôlée, the official notice of the appellation, is given pride of place at the top of the label.

3. Mis en Bouteille au Château This goes one better than a simple mis en bouteille by specifying where the wine was bottled, at the place the wine was made.

4. Rougier, Propriétaire, Meyreuil France Propriétaire denotes the owner of the winery. Rougier is the surname of the family that owns Château Simone Meyreuil is the commune in Provence where it is situated.

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Who Made The Wine

This is the most important piece of information on the label, because the quality of the wine depends to a great extent on the reputation of the winery. The better wineries also have a distinctive style, making the selection process much easier.

The label also indicates the extent of the producer’s connection with the wine. The highest designation is “grown, produced, and bottled by,” which guarantees that the winery named on the label grew the grapes and produced and bottled the wine, making it a complete estate wine. If the label reads “produced and bottled by,” the named winery crushed the grapes and made the wine. However, if the wine was fermented elsewhere, the phrase on the label may say “cellared and bottled by.” The phrase “made and bottled by” reveals that the winery used grapes it crushed, along with wine that was fermented elsewhere.

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How To Read A New World Wine Label

Lets move on to the New World! A New World wine is basically any wine thats not made in Europe. For example, wines made in North America, South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand would all be considered New World wines. These wine labels are classified by the grape variety which makes reading the label a bit easier in my opinion. At first glance, when picking up a New World wine, you might find the following on the wine label: grape variety, producer/winery name , fanciful name , vineyard, wine region name .

What A Wine Label Can Tell You

How to Read a Wine Label: United States â WTSO: From the Vine

I always love trying new wines but it can be challenging taking a risk on a new bottle. I totally get it, but thankfully the front and back label hold a bevy of helpful information when it comes to choosing something your palate will enjoy. The back label will often show sensory characteristics , winery background information, and sometimes food pairings, says Sager. The back labels of the wine bottle are the most effective ways to influence consumer choice besides with the packaging, he adds. The producer name is either obvious in large font or in small text at the top or the bottom of the label it depends on the region and origin of the wine.

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Where Were The Grapes Grown

The growing area or appellation noted on the label provides the source of the grapes used to make the wine. It might be as broad as an entire state or region, such as California or Burgundy, in which case the grapes came from two or more growing areas within the borders of the state or region. More specific appellations include a county or subregion a growing area within a county or subregion, such as Napa Valley and a subappellation within a larger one, such as Oakville . An even more specific designation is the name of the vineyard within the appellation. As a rule, the more specific the designation of where the grapes were grown, the higher the quality of the wine.

Reading A European Wine Label

  • 1Locate the name of the country that made the wine. The label will tell you where the wine was made if it was produced in specific countries, it is an Old World wine. When someone refers to a wine as an “Old World” wine, this means it was produced in one of the countries that are thought to be the first countries to make wine. Some people prefer Old World wines simply because they appreciate the long history that went into the making of these wines.XResearch source
  • Old World wines tend to be lower in alcohol content, and lighter and more restrained in taste although this is not true of every wine.
  • Countries that are considered to be the birthplace of winemaking include: France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Austria, Croatia, Romania, Georgia, Hungary, Switzerland, Israel, and Lebanon.
  • 2Check the quality designation. Old World wines are regulated and graded, and each country has its own system of rating its wines. In general, they rank from “superior quality” wines to “table” wines, which are the lowest-rated, everyday wines. The quality designations of several European wine countries, from highest to lowest quality, are as follows:
  • France: AOC , VDQS , Vins de Pays , Vins de Table .
  • Germany: QWSA , QBA , Deutscher Landwein , Deutscher Tafelwein .
  • Italy: DOCG , DOC , IGT , Vini di Tavola .
  • Spain: DO , DOC .
  • Portugal has only one classification, indicating a good quality wine: DO .
  • Chianti is not a type of grape, it is a region of Italy that makes Chianti wine.
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    What Is Required On A Wine Label

    Wine manufacturers are required to display certain aspects of the wine on their labels by law. Here is a list of requirements that have to be met by wine producers.

    • Name of the brand
    • The kind of grape used to make the wine
    • The alcohol content
    • The label should state if the wine is vintage or not
    • The volume of the bottle, either in ounces, liters, or milliliters
    • The amount of sulfites used
    • The government-stated health warnings

    Domaine Boussey Volnay Premier Cru Les Taillepieds 2017

    How to Read a French Wine Label

    Like the label on the Ghislaine Barthod Chambolle-Musigny, this Burgundy label includes all the pertinent information, yet it is presented without the traditional decorative touches, and uses a cleaner, simpler typeface.

    1. Domaine Boussey Laurent & Karen Laurent and Karen Boussey are the proprietors and the grape growers.

    2. Volnay 1er Cru Appellation dOrigine Contrôlée The official appellation. The grapes were grown in a premier cru vineyard in the village of Volnay.

    3. Les Taillepieds The name of the vineyard.

    4. Grand Vin de Bourgogne A meaningless but compulsory indication that the wine is from Burgundy. It could also read simply Vin de Bourgogne.

    5. Mis en Bouteille au domaine etc. Bottled at the estate, along with other information.

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    Dont Get Caught Up On Sulfites

    This is another buzz word in the wine media these days and is way overblown, says Tanghe. Theres lots of banter on avoiding sulfites when it comes to wine, but Tanghe notes the amount of sulphur used in winemaking is minimal but crucial in protecting it from spoiling, oxidizing, and much more. It ensures that the wine is in top form when you open it, and keeps it brighter and fresher for longer, he adds. Remember that wine is an agricultural product that needs to be treated like other delicate produce. And while many people claim sulfites give them headaches, well, thats just the alcohol in generalso dont blame the sulfites after consuming an entire bottle of wine!

    How To Read Wine Label With Terms

    Besides the compulsory information required by government authorities, all sorts of other words can show up on wine labels. These words might include meaningless phrases intended to allure you about special quality wine, and words that provide useful information about whats actually in the bottle. Below are a few common words to bear in mind.

    • Reserve:

    Reserve is among the frequently seen meaningless words on U.S. wine labels. The term is used to make you think that the wine inside the bottle is special. This trick usually works as the word does have a specific meaning. Also, it can carry a certain amount of prestige as on labels of wine bottles from many other countries like Italy or Spain, in which it is mistaken for the extra aging.

    • Estate-bottled:

    Estate is an interchangeable word for a wine farm, a combined grape-growing and winemaking operation. If appearing on a wine label, the word indicates that the company that grew the grapes and made the wine is also responsible for the bottling process. In other words, estate-bottled refers to the accountability from the vineyard to the winemaking through to the bottling. In many countries, wineries dont necessarily have to own the vineyards themselves, but they have to control the vineyards and perform the vineyard operations.

    • Superior:
    • Brut:

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    How To Read A Wine Bottle Label From Germany

    First, lets discuss how to read a German wine bottle label. Its most prominent element is the name of the winery: Dönnhoff. You can also find the winerys logo and its address. The label clearly states that the varietal Riesling was used to produce this wine and that it comes from the Nahe region, which is one of the 13 controlled wine regions of Germany. Besides, it contains two quality labels:

    • Erzeugerabfüllung translates to estate-bottled. The term indicates that the winery only used grapes from its own estate and didnt blend it with grapes from other origins.
    • Qualitätswein means Quality Wine and is a quality label for wines that fulfill specific requirements. They must be produced in one of the official German wine regions and represent this regions typical characteristics.

    Finally, the bottle label contains information about sulfites, the alcohol content, and the quantity.

    German Wine Bottle Label

    D Government Warning Mandatory

    How to read a California wine label

    All wine bottled after November 18, 1989 must bear the health warning statement in the exact manner and wording specified in the federal regulations.

    If you are still reading this, thank you and enjoy your next bottle of wine, armed with the knowledge that you know why all this stuff is crammed onto the wine’s label!

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    Mayacamas Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

    An old-school California wine label, notably different from European labels in emphasizing grape variety over place. The name Mayacamas is said to mean howl of the mountain lion in the language of the Wappo, the original inhabitants of this part of Northern California, and the dancing lions within the stylized M, surrounded by vines, pay homage to that image.

    1. Mayacamas The producer, named for the mountain range that divides Napa and Sonoma counties.

    2. Cabernet Sauvignon The predominant grape. By California law, a wine with 75 percent or more of a particular grape can use the name of the grape to identify the wine.

    3. Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Mount Veeder is a sub-appellation an American Viticultural Area, in domestic wine parlance within the larger Napa Valley appellation.

    4. Produced and bottled by Mayacamas Vineyards Indicates that the winery crushed, fermented and bottled at least 75 percent of the wine, but does not suggest that the winery grew all the grapes. The phrase estate bottled would indicate that a winery grew all the grapes and produced the wine.

    5. Alcohol 14¼% A wonderfully old-fashioned rendering, forgoing the decimal equivalent.

    How To Read Wine Labels Of Particular Countries: A Few More Tips

    FranceAs mentioned above, look for the words “Appellation d’origine contrôlée” or any similar phrase anywhere on the label. Sometimes it is in the format “Appellation Contrôlée” where the blank is the name of the appellation. This is will help you to find the region or “appellation” the wine was produced. While the vineyards and sub-regions can become confusing in places like Burgundy, learning how to read wine labels from these regions will come as you learn more about the region as a whole and the wines it produces.

    SpainLike France and Italy, Spain has an indicator which specifies which region a wine is from. “Denominación de Origen Calificada” indicates the official region the grapes must have come from, so look for this term on either the front or back label of the wine.

    ItalyAs mentioned above, look for “”Denominazione di origine controllata” which indicates which region or sub-region a wine came from.

    Australia and CaliforniaAustralian and Californian wines are generally pretty straightforward, clearly labeling both the region in which the wine was made as well as the grape varietals that went into it. In a few wines that have special names, oftentimes the back label will explain where the wine comes from and its composition.

    We hope this helps you learn how to read wine labels! Again, practice and learn as much as you can about wine regions, grape varietals and specific producers to aid in understanding wine labels.

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