There is an abundance of information found on wine labels. In order to really know what is in the bottle, some of this information is critical, but some of it is only fluff. Understanding what to look for across the board, country-to-country may assist you with an improved picture of what you are buying for sure. There is an abundance of exceptions and caveats, but it is generally accepted that a wine label has five essential parts.

Stores usually have predominately 2 styles of wine labels, one, which identifies a wine according to its brand name, or one, which is labeled according to its appellation credentials. Appellation credentials protect the name, under which the wine has been granted permission to be sold, signifying the use of specific grapes from a specific region. When the front of the label displays what grapes a wine is made from, it is labeled according to its brand.

How to read a Wine Label

Essential Parts To A Wine Label

  1. Producer Name Should be the obvious. This is the name of the producer, winery or vineyard and should be of the bottler or producer is preceded by the words ‘Bottled by’, or ‘Produced and bottled by’. The name and the address of the producer should appear somewhere on the label. ‘Estate-bottled’ is reserved exclusively for wines grown, harvested, crushed, fermented, processed and bottled by a single winery estate, within the boundaries of a single AVA. However, it is important to keep in mind that ‘Brand wines’ are named solely to make the wine stand out against its competition.
  2. Region A key part of a wines identity, the region indicates the origin from where the grapes were sourced to produce the wine. It implies something about the wines style and likely quality.
  3. Vintage or Non-Vintage (NV) The year in which the wine was made. Vintage differences are often differences of character. For example, in a cool year many wines will be lighter in body, possibly a bit more elegant. In a hot year they may be packed with jammy fruit flavors. As a general rule, non-vintage or “NV” wines lack the quality standards of the winery and are usually a blend of multiple vintages, combined to emphasis the best characteristics of each.
  4. Variety or Appellation The variety refers to the type of grape or grapes used in the making. Frequently blends fail to reveal neither constituent grapes nor the percentage that each makes of the whole. Look for the Appellation in the instance no varietal is provided, which can provide you with an indication as to the varietals used based on the rules governing the region.
  5. Alcohol by Volume (ABV) Mandatory. This statement is an indication of the alcohol and is provided in percentages. Typically, the higher the percentage of alcohol, the “fuller” the wine will be.