How To Read A Wine Label
How To Read A Wine Label
VideoJug presents this guide to reading and understanding wine labels from around the world. Expert advice on how to read the wine's design, naming, region, grape variety, and whether the wine is vintage just through the label.
Step 1: The Design
There are many different styles of label design - some conservative and some outlandish. This is not necessarily an indicator of quality. It's just a way of marketing the wine, and creating an 'image' of the wine to lure the customer. Often there is also a description of the wine, usually on the back label, to make the wine more attractive to buyers. This will usually contain descriptive words like 'smooth', 'fruity', 'full-bodied' etc
Step 2: Naming
On most labels the producer or maker of the wine is usually at the top or in another prominent position. This is often followed by the name of the wine itself. In Europe wines are often named after the region they are produced. In New World regions like America and Australia, wines are often named after the grape variety. However, there are cases when it's done the other way around, or where the wine is given a name that is neither the region nor the grape variety. Aside from the name of the producer and the wine, some labels will also show a more general 'type' of wine, such as tale wine, sparkling wine or Rose
Step 3: Region
In the old world the region can be extremely small, for example Medoc. In the New World the regions tend to be larger, sometimes much larger, for example south eastern Australia. However there are still many smaller wine producing areas throughout the world like Margaret River in Australia or Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. Different countries have different rules about which region appears on the wine label. Often a distinction has to be made between the region where the grapes were grown, and the region where the wine was bottled.
Step 4: Grape Variety
Usually a certain percentage of grapes from one variety must be used for that variety to be named on the label. If no grape variety is shown, the wine is usually a blend.
Step 5: Vintage
The vintage is the year shown on the label, usually on the front. It refers to the year the grapes were harvested, not the year the wine was made or bottled.
Step 6: Other
Other items commonly found on wine labels include:
The volume, which in a standard size bottle of wine is 750ml.
The alcohol content, shown as a percentage.
Also, in some countries, such as the US, wine labels have to show health warnings
For further information watch our film 'Old World Wine Labels: Terms And Jargon'.