There’s a lot of information available on a wine label. Reading a wine label properly can tell you exactly what you can expect from your wine before you buy it. Therefore, learning how to decipher the clues hidden in your wine label is an important skill for any wine lover. Of course, labels can look very different depending on what country your wine is from. Nevertheless, there are a few basic things that should be available on every wine label.
The Producer and the Region
Locating the producer of the wine might be difficult. However, it should always be on the label. If it’s not obvious it will likely be in small print near the bottom of the label. Knowing the producer is good because if you like the wine it will be an easy way to collect more of the same, or branch out and try something knew from the same producer.
The region should also be easy to locate. If the region is broad the wine will likely be less expensive. The more specific the region is the higher the quality of the wine is likely to be. For example, the grapes might be sourced from a wide-ranging area or from a specific vineyard which would usually make it more exclusive and carefully crafted. This is a great indicator of quality.
The Grape Varietal
This is clearly key information. Some wines will be single varietal, meaning they are made from one type of grape, while others are blends of several different grape types. For example, one popular blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Sometimes labels will not reveal the type of grape used in making the wine. In these cases, the label will have an Appellation. If you search the specific Appellation listed on the label you can usually find the grape that was used to make the wine.
Checking the alcohol level of your wine is very important. How high the alcohol level is indicates how ripe the grapes were before they were harvested. Wines with high alcohol levels will tend to have a fuller body and less acid. By contrast, wines with less alcohol will tend to have higher acidity levels. Alcohol can also indicate sweetness. Generally speaking the more alcohol a wine has the dryer it’s going to be. If a wine has low levels of alcohol it’ll be sweeter.
Some vintages (years) are better than others for making wine. Therefore, if you do your research and learn which vintages are best for which regions picking the best wine will be a lot easier. If a wine doesn’t have a vintage it means it’s a blend from several different years. This usually means the wine is lower in value because it’s easier to control the flavour if you have grapes from several different years.
Happy hunting wine lovers!
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