Knowing How To Read Wine Label Gives You A Leg Up

The sometimes confusing world of wine can become a lot more clear when you have a basic understanding on how to read a wine bottle label. By doing a little research before hand and knowing which terms to look for, you can walk into most restaurants and order wine like you’ve been doing this all your life.

Wine producers are required by law to submit their wine labels to make sure they meet that countries particular wine label standards. In America, wine label laws require all the information you will need to make an educated decision about which wine to purchase and which wine will meet your particular tastes.

The first information you should seek is the producer of the wine. By doing some basic study on which wine producers have the best reputation you can go in with a little knowledge beforehand. However, you will also want to find what type of connection the listed producer has to the wine. A label will say, “produced by, grown by or bottled by.” Simply saying “bottled by” means the listed winery may have only bottled the wine but had little impact on the actual production. You want to find a label that says “made and bottled by” so you can insure that the listed company stands completely behind the wine you are holding in your hand.

The next step is determining what type of grape was used, or its variety. More than one listed grape varieties means the wine is a blend. The front label may use a name for a region you are unfamiliar with, but the back label should provide more detailed information about which country the wine is from.

The vintage date tells you what year the grapes were harvested that produced this wine. An absence of the vintage date can indicate that the wine is a blend.

Some wine labels use terms such as private reserve and special selection which can mean very little. There is no standard regulation for these terms, so any producer can use these terms to describe their wine. The term “reserve” does have to follow specific legal requirements in parts of Europe, but not in the United States. However, if the term “estate bottled” is used in the United States it means the wine was bottled on the same estate that the grapes were grown in.

By having a bit of information going in about how to read a label you can better insure that you find a wine that meets your specific tastes. But you should never be shy about asking your server more detailed questions about phrases and words used on the label. The best approach is to research which wines you want to try and look for those when out at a restaurant.

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