You Can Buy Better Wine if You Know What to Look for on the Bottle Label

Checking out red wine labels can be difficult. Some are more simple, while others have so much info on them that all however the most skilled professionals or passionate collectors of that particular red wine or area may discover themselves perplexed as to what everything means.

With that in mind, we’ve created a guide on how to analyze labels, no matter where on the planet the red wine originates from.
A person shops in a wine store
The vintage
The vintage on the label is constantly a recommendation to the year in which the grapes were selected. This is important since it permits us to comprehend what Mother Nature offered during that particular growing season (hot and dry vintages tend to be quite various from cool and wet ones, for example). The date is not the year the white wine was bottled– offered the distinctions in aging techniques and viewpoints from one region or producer to another, there could be as much as numerous years between the harvest date and the bottling one … and even longer for some classic Champagnes.

Geographical origin
A wine identified as just coming from a nation will not be as meaningful or, in general, as interesting as a white wine from a specific area within that nation. White wines can get even more granular than that, with appellations, private towns, single vineyards, or even single parcel wines.
Grape range or mix
In the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and other parts of the non-European world, white wines are usually identified by the grapes they’re composed of. In the United States, for example, a red wine only has to be made of 75% of a specific grape range to be identified as such; many Napa Cabs, some of the finest in the world, are actually blended with other complimentary varieties, like Merlot or Cabernet Franc.

Legally defined name
When the name of a particular region or appellation appears on the label, it doesn’t just mean that the grapes were grown because location; there are also frequently more policies specifying a particular region or appellation than just lines on the map. Altitude can likewise be a defining characteristic of a specific location. Napa Valley’s Atlas Peak AVA can only appear on a label if the grapes were grown between 400 and 2,600 feet above sea level.
IGT, DOC, DOCG, AOC, AOP, and more
Fans of Italian and French wines will acknowledge these letters, which appear respectively on wines throughout both countries. They essentially tell you that the red wines come from controlled or safeguarded place-names, which they follow the specific rules and policies that apply to the growing of grapes and making from white wines in them, whether that’s how many vines per acre (or hectare) can be planted, permitted irrigation practices, the amount of time the wines spend in barrel or bottle prior to striking the market, and more.

One important product of note: DOCG wines are not naturally much better than DOC ones, though the label is usually considered to be more prominent. Frescobaldi, the excellent Tuscan producer, puts it well on their site: “The idea of the pyramid is represented by DOCG wines, indeed the most prestigious acronym. There are still bottles of old Sassicaia and Tignanello that are technically “table wine,” in spite of the reality that they ‘d cost serious money to get!

Old vines
There is no legal meaning for old vines (or “vieilles vignes”), yet lots of labels boast of them. They do so because, in basic, the older a vine is, the more meaningful its grapes are. As vines grow older, they begin to produce less– yet more concentrated– fruit. Lots of white wines will define on the back label how old the vines actually remain in an old-vines bottling, and if that’s not the case, then have a look at the producer’s or importer’s site for that info. Old vines could be 30 years, 50 years, and even 100 years in some unusual circumstances.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *