How To Read A Wine Label? (Question)

The mandatory sentences on wine labels

  1. A brand name.
  2. Indication of class or type (table wine, dessert wine, or sparkling wine)
  3. The percentage of alcohol by volume (unless it’s implicit — for example, the statement table wine implies an alcohol content of less than 14 percent)
  4. Name and location of the bottler.

What can you learn from a wine label?

  • Produced by. – At least 75 percent of the wine was fermented at the address on the bottle,which is usually the winery.
  • Cellared and bottled by.
  • Appellation of Origin.
  • Varietal Designation.
  • Vintage Date.
  • Estate Bottled
  • Vineyard Name
  • Descriptive Paragraph.
  • Reserve,Special Selection or Private Selection.

Contents

What information is listed on a wine label?

The most obvious information on a typical wine label is its producer or brand name, region of origin, vintage, and often the grape variety or blend the wine is made from.

What do numbers on wine mean?

Wine Spectator’s breakdown is typical: 80–84: Good; 85–89: Very Good; 90–94: Outstanding; 95–100: Classic. Wine Spectator scores seem to be more absolute.

How do you read the expiration date on wine?

If there is no expiration date listed, then check the vintage date. The vintage date is the year that the grapes were harvested for that particular bottle. If you have a bottle of red wine, add 2 years. For white wine, add 1 year, and for the Fine wine:10-20 years.

What do the numbers on wine corks mean?

They are sizes: #7, #8, #9 and #10. These numbers refer to the diameter of the cork. The higher the number, the larger the diameter of the cork. The opening of a standard, 750 ml wine bottle is 3/4 of an inch. If you have a wine bottle corker you will want to purchase either the size #8 or size #9 corks.

What are the three general categories of wine labeling?

TYPES AND LABELING OF WINE There are basically three ways to label a bottle of wine: 1) by region, 2) by varietal, 3) make something up.

How do you present a wine label?

7 things to read on your wine label

  1. Country and region. Most wine labels will showcase the produce’s country of origin, either at the top or the bottom of the label.
  2. Name and/or producer.
  3. Variety of grape.
  4. Vintage or non-vintage.
  5. Alcohol level.
  6. Sulfites.
  7. Sweetness.

What are the numbers on the bottom of a wine bottle?

In most cases, one- or two-digit numbers are actually mold numbers that indicate the specific bottle mold or section in an automatic bottle machine. If numerous molds were identical, each one received its own number. Base numbers also indicate bottle styles or shapes, manufacturing dates, or factory location codes.

How many wines should be on a wine list?

When applied to your wine list, the 80/20 Rule suggests that the Top 20% of the wines on your wine list will account for 80% of the total sales. In other words, if your wine list has 100 wines on it, there will be 20 wines that are going to be your bestsellers and your staff favorites.

What does the percentage mean on a bottle of wine?

The number of units in a drink can be calculated from the alcohol by volume (ABV) and the size of the drink. The higher the ABV, the stronger the drink. For example, wine that says “12% ABV” or “alcohol volume 12%” means 12% of the volume of that drink is pure alcohol.

Does wine have expiry date?

Though unopened wine has a longer shelf life than opened wine, it can go bad. Unopened wine can be consumed past its printed expiration date if it smells and tastes OK. Cooking wine: 3–5 years past the printed expiration date. Fine wine: 10–20 years, stored properly in a wine cellar.

Does wine expire if opened?

In general, wine lasts one to five days after being opened. The key is minimizing how much oxygen touches the surface when you store the open wine, to ensure it doesn’t oxidize and stays fresher for longer. It’s true, the primary reason wines go bad is oxidation.

What is the date on wine bottle?

You are correct that the date on the bottle of wine is the year that the wine grapes were harvested, otherwise known as the vintage. Some wines are blends of multiple vintages and are called “non-vintage,” or “NV.” That’s not a comment about quality—many of my very favorite bubbly wines are non-vintage.

Should I use #8 or #9 corks?

A #9 cork is the standard diameter cork for almost all wine bottles. A #8 cork is slightly smaller in diameter and is generally used to stopper a Champagne Bottle.

What is a number 8 cork?

The #8 is in reference to the diameter of the cork. To make it easy, the higher the first number the larger the diameter of the cork. The 1 ¾” is in reference to the length of the cork. Also, these numbers are based on pretty ideal storage conditions.

What should I look for in a wine cork?

A corked wine will often smell of moldy basement (as opposed to barnyard which is a desired characteristic in certain styles of wine!), wet dog, or canned tuna. It will taste flat and dull.

How to Read a Wine Label

Here are some useful hints (as well as graphics) on how to decipher a wine bottle’s label. There is a lot of information on the back of wine labels. Some of it is essential to comprehending what is in the bottle, while other parts are only smokescreens for the real story. Here’s a simple primer to help you understand what counts, how to find a good deal, and what to avoid while shopping online.

How To Read A Wine Label

Wines in France are branded according to their origin, or “appellation.” There are two primary types of wine labels that are often encountered in retail establishments. A wine that is identifiable by its brand name or a wine that is identified by its appellation credentials. A wine that is designated by its brand will state on the front label which grapes it is composed of (whether it is chardonnay or a’red blend’), as well as the price of the bottle. In order to determine what is in a bottle of wine that has been designated by its appellation credentials, the wine must comply with the quality level criteria and restrictions established by the appellation.

Understanding a wine label may not always provide insight into how the wine will taste, but it may provide you with a more accurate image of what you are purchasing.

5 Basic Parts To A Wine Label

  1. The name of the producer or the producer’s name The name of the producer is either prominently displayed or written in small writing at the top or bottom of the label (such as many French wine label examples). This is the person who created the wine. Please keep in mind that some American wine labels with merely a Wine Name (such as Apothic Red) are really branded wines from larger wine firms. Apothic Red is a branded wine produced by E J Gallo, the winery in question. Region The region specifies where the grapes for the wine were taken from in order to make it. When comparing wines from different regions, a wine from a bigger (read: more ambiguous) region is often considered a value wine, whereas a wine from a specific vineyard location is frequently considered a better quality regional designation (e.g., California vs. “Santa Rita Hills” AVA). If a wine comes from a specific vineyard site, the vineyard site will be specified in quotes (for example, “Les Suchots”) or will be put directly below the region designation (ie Vosne RomaneeLes Suchots). In general, when the source is narrowed down to a certain site, the quality level becomes more refined and the price rises
  2. Appellation (also known as variety) The variety refers to the fruit or grapes that were utilized in the production of the wine– for example, Merlot or CMS Blend (Cab, Merlot, Syrah). In many cases, the grapes that make up the mix are not disclosed, nor is the proportion that each grape contributes to the entire. The Appellation, which can provide hints as to which varietals were used based on the norms regulating that region, should be looked for when there is no varietal specified. There are 15 countries having legally controlled appellations, albeit the strictness of the criteria and the scope of what is considered important vary greatly from one to the next. Vintage or not vintage, it doesn’t matter (NV) The vintage refers to the year in which the grapes were picked. If you are familiar with vintage variations, the vintage of a wine may reveal a great deal about it. As a general rule, multi-vintage wines, sometimes known as “NV” wines, are considered to be lower-value wines since they are made possible by the simplicity with which wine from various vintages may be blended to regulate the flavor. by volume of alcoholic beverage (ABV) The amount of alcohol in a wine actually tells you a lot about it. Many European wine regions only allow their highest quality wines to have alcohol by volume (ABV) of 13.5 percent or higher. In the United States, alcohol by volume (ABV) may be extremely high (up to 17 percent on certain dry wines), and the amount of alcohol in the wine is an indication of how rich or large the wine may taste. Several high-alcohol wines are made from riper grapes and tend to have more fruity flavors than their lower alcohol counterparts. It should be noted that this is a generalization, and that there are exceptions to the rule.

Purchase the book and receive the course! With the purchase of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition, you will receive a FREE copy of the Wine 101 Course (a $50 value). Read on to find out more In Chablis, the 2009 vintage was quite hot; instead, sip lemonade.

Other Information on a Wine Label

The term “Estate Bottled” refers to wine that was cultivated, produced, and bottled on the winery’s premises. Many negociant wine makers, such as Georges Deobueof, acquire both grapes and wine from a variety of sites and bottle them all together. These types of wines are often of poorer grade (again, a generalization). It is required that estate-bottled wines be cultivated and made on the estate where they are sourced. Various nations, including Italy, Germany, France, and Spain, use the phrase “Estate Bottled” to describe their products:

  • Mis en Bouteille au Château
  • Mis en Bouteille a la Propriete
  • Mis en Bouteille au domaine
  • Embotellat a la Propietat (Spain)
  • Imbottigliato all’origine (Italy)
  • Erzeugerabfüllung (Germany)
  • Imbottigliato all’origine (Italy).

Reserve

Although the designation Reserve appears to be prestigious, it does not imply any formal status. There are no guidelines for what constitutes a reserve wine, and hence the word “reserve” on a bottle might imply absolutely nothing. Many small producers use it to denote their top-tier wines, which are made from the winemaker’s highest-quality production wines and the finest barrels available at the time of production. If the wine you’re considering purchasing appears to be too wonderful to be true, take this signal with a grain of salt.

Old Vines or Vielles Vins

The utilization of grapes from older vines often results in a wine with more concentrated tastes due to the usage of older vines. There are no standards, however, that specify how old an old vine must be in order to qualify for the “Old Vine” label.

It is used by winemakers to assist them identify the style of wine they are producing. Vine age can range from 15 to 115 years, and these vines are designated as “Old Vines” on their labels. Some wines that are labeled “Old Vines” are made from a combination of new vine grapes and old vine grapes.

Contains Sulfites

The words “Contains Sulfites” are a label requirement for all officially imported or domestic wines sold in the United States, regardless of where they were produced. The majority of grapes have sulfur on them in the vineyard, and there is a heated debate over whether or not sulfites are important in wine. I like to use the following analogy: If you are not sensitive to dried mangoes or apricots, which contain between 1000 and 4000 ppm (parts per million) sulfites, you will be fine drinking a high-sulfite wine, which contains only 300-400 ppm sulfites (parts per million).

Onitalianmade.com provides information about Italian wine labels.

How to read a wine label: 7 essential things to look for –

Labeling any legally imported or domestic wines in the United States with the phrase “Contains Sulfites” has become a requirement. The majority of grapes in the vineyard have sulfur on them, and there is a heated discussion about whether or not sulfites are important in wine. As an example, if you are not sensitive to dried mangoes or apricots, which contain between 1000 and 4000 ppm (parts per million) sulfites, you will be fine drinking a high-sulfite wine that contains only 300-400 ppm (parts per million) sulfites.

7 things to read on your wine label

In this blog post, we’ll go through the seven components of a wine label that you should be on the lookout for when purchasing wine.

1. Country and region

Most wine labels will include the nation of origin of the product, either at the top of the label or at the bottom of the label. If this country isn’t immediately clear, it’s possible that the maker has opted to highlight the wine area rather than the country. For example, the top of the label of this bottle of Château Martet indicates the name of the location where the wine was produced (Sainte-Foy-Bordeux). Learning about your wine areas can eventually aid you in determining the quality of the wine you are drinking.

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As an example, the term “Grand Vin de Bordeaux” is neither protected nor legally defined in any way.

The general rule of thumb is that the more detailed the geographical label, the more costly the wine is likely to be, and – we hope – the better the wine will be in terms of quality.

Here’s another vital piece of advice. Almost all English wine, including some of the most expensive sparkling wines, is made from grapes cultivated in the United Kingdom. Known as Britishwine, it is a low-cost beverage made in the United Kingdom from imported concentrated grape must.

2. Name and/or producer

In a similar vein, the name of the wine producer will be displayed on the front of the majority of bottles. This may not mean much to you unless you’re a serious wine enthusiast, in which case it is. Each producer, on the other hand, will bring their own expertise and individuality to their products. This Merlot has’Aurelia Visinescu ‘, one of our favorite producers, displayed prominently on the bottom of the bottle at the bottom. A producer might be a family, a business, or an individual who enjoys making wine for their own enjoyment.

This is due to the fact that the person who grows the grapes is also the person who makes the wine, and thus is more concerned with the quality of the finished product.

3. Variety of grape

Using the previous point as an example, we can see that the bottle clearly displays the variety of grape (‘merlot’) that was used in the production of the wine. The tasting notes and depth of the wine will, of course, vary depending on the grape variety used to make the wine. If the grape is not prominently shown on the label of your bottle, it is possible that the maker utilized a combination of more than one grape. In this instance, you should seek for the designation. This can give you an idea of what types of grapes may have been used in the bottle, depending on the regulations in that particular region.

For example, the French simply assume that you are aware that white Burgundy is almost certainly made from Chardonnay and red Burgundy is almost certainly made from Pinot Noir when they speak of these wines.

New World wines are more likely than conventional European bottles to be labeled with the variety they come from.

However, if they do not wish to tell you, they are under no obligation to do so.

4. Vintage or non-vintage

On the wine label, look for the year in which the wine was made – this is referred to as the ‘vintage.’ Consider taking a glance at the bottle’s neck or the reverse side if the information on the front label isn’t immediately obvious. The year shown above is the year in which the grapes were picked and processed. The vintages differ from one another. It just takes one severe storm or hailstorm during harvest to ruin a promising harvest and transform it into a disastrous vintage. As a result, at the top end of the market, the vintage can provide some insight into the overall quality of the wine.

Champagne and Port are only issued in good years, therefore the mere appearance of a vintage date is a hint of (ideally) higher quality in the beverage.

Non-vintage wines are often suitable to drink immediately upon release, and they are unlikely to improve with further ageing.

In certain situations, such as Rioja, phrases such as ‘Riserva’ and ‘Gran Riserva’ have protected meanings and denote a wine that has been aged for a longer period of time. However, in the majority of situations, including the word “Reserve” on the label is purely for marketing purposes.

5. Alcohol level

It is beneficial to be aware of the amount of alcohol by volume (ABV). Red wines have an average alcohol content of 13.5 percent, whereas white wines have an average alcohol content of a bit less than that. The percentage is usually printed in finer print at the bottom of the front or back label, depending on the manufacturer. According to the law, they are not required to be more accurate than 0.5 percent in any direction. Depending on the food, you might want to pair a lighter wine with it – a Muscadet with shellfish, for example, or a heavier red with steak.

A high level of alcohol, on the other hand, may indicate a jammier, flabbier wine.

In some places, there is a minimal alcohol by volume restriction, for example, for some cooler-region white wines, such as a Smaragd Riesling from Wachau, with the goal of avoiding excessive acidity in the final product.

6. Sulfites

Producers are required to inform you whether sulfites were applied if the concentration is greater than 10 mg/litre. Sulphites are used by the majority of manufacturers, and some utilize a lot of them. However, they are not required to notify you how much they are paying. This can be problematic for persons who are allergic to sulfite. Additionally, natural wines that contain little or no sulfites are not always more wholesome; rather, sulfites minimize the danger of bacterial infection and oxidation.

7. Sweetness

Almost all red wines are dry in nature. This indicates that the sugar in the grape juice has been totally converted to alcohol, with just trace amounts of residual sugar remaining, which are too low to be detected by skilled tasters. The bare minimum detection threshold is around four grams per litre of water. The majority of white wines are also dry, but there are those that are pleasantly off-dry or even sweeter. When ordering a glass of wine at a pub, opt for a ‘Sauvignon blanc’ or a ‘Chardonnay’ rather as a ‘dry white wine,’ and you’ll instantly sound more knowledgeable.

We really enjoy theRieslings at Chateau Vincarta.

Look for the word ‘Trocken’ on the label of German wines that are meant to be dry. However, if you want something sweet, seek for ‘Auslese’. The terms Brut and Brut Nature in Champagne refer to a dry and very dry type of champagne, respectively.

What’s NOT on the label

Producers may be able to tell you whether egg or dairy products were used in the fining process to make the wine clearer and brighter. However, they are under no obligation to say anything. In the same way, they are not required to disclose any information about their farming practices. If a wine is labeled organic or biodynamic, it must meet the requirements of the labeling system; however, cheap wine is frequently the result of overly intensive farming practices. In particular, we are concerned about overproduction in the Prosecco industry.

What strain of yeast was utilized in the fermentation process?

Was it fermented in a concrete tank from the 1970s or in a costly new French oak barrel from the 1990s?

Pick the best of the bunch

There is actually quite a bit of information to take in from a wine bottle label when you break it down. With a little practice, the correct researcher reading list, or even a basic course at the WSET, you’ll be able to tell the difference between higher-quality wines and those that will ‘just do’ in most situations. Picking high-quality wine with honest labels from intelligent producers and, uhm, sellers who know their Grand Vin from the Premier Cru is a wise investment. So why not pay a visit to your local wine shop and take a look around?

How to Read a Wine Label

It might be intimidating just to go into the retail wine area of a grocery store, wine shop, or even the winery’s own tasting room. What criteria do you use to distinguish or pick bottles of wine? To begin answering, let’s start with the most fundamental of all fundamentals. In terms of consistency, what is the one thing that virtually every bottle of wine on the planet has in common? It’s all on the label. Plenty of information may be found on that small rectangle (which is usually 412 by 314 inches in size).

Varying nations have different requirements for the information that must be provided.

Some states, such as California, have passed legislation requiring supplementary labeling.

Let’s take a look at each and every one of these precious pieces of knowledge.

The Front Label – the one designed to catch your eye on a shelf!

To begin, please be advised that some of this information is highly technical; therefore, under many sections, you will find at least one Helpful Tip that attempts to simplify or justify the jargon.

1Brand Name— mandatory

This tells you who is responsible for making the wine. It is not recommended that you purchase a bottle of wine from Trefethen Family Vineyards if you desire a bottle from Robert Mondavi Winery. And the same goes for the other way around! — As a side note, both brands are excellent, as are all Napa Valley wines (not that we’re prejudiced in any way).

If there is no brand name on the label, the bottler’s name (which appears on the rear label) is regarded as the brand name. If a winery has many brands, it is sometimes helpful to refer to the bottler’s name.

2Wine Type— mandatory

Who makes the wine can be determined by looking at this labeling information. It is not recommended that you purchase a bottle of wine from Trefethen Family Vineyards if you desire a bottle of wine from Robert Mondavi. The same goes for the other way around. — As a side note, both brands are excellent, as are all Napa Valley wines (not that we are biased in any way). It is assumed that the bottler’s name (on the rear label) is the brand if there is no brand name on the bottle’s label. If a winery has many brands, it is sometimes helpful to refer to the bottler’s name.

3Appellation of Origin— mandatory

Despite the fact that drinking wine is a really enjoyable hobby, this is maybe the most serious element of a wine label. An appellationis a geographical indicator that is legally recognized and protected and is used to identify the region in which the grapes for a wine were cultivated. The Napa Valley Vintners Association, as well as other organizations, have worked hard for many years to ensure that Napa Valley wines are protected against imitators and those that come from outside of the county’s borders.

  • Under federal law, appellations of origin that are the names of states and counties can be used on wine labels provided at least 75 percent of the grapes used in the production of the wine come from the stated state or county. The balance of the grapes may be sourced from locations other than the designated state or county. A minimum of 85 percent of the grapes used to make a wine labeled with an American Viticultural Area (AVA), which is a specific type of appellation of origin established under federal law, must come from the named AVA (for example, “Napa Valley,”) with the remaining grapes coming from anywhere else in the world. That wine must be completely finished in the state in which the AVA is located
  • California law requires that 100 percent of the grapes used in any wine labeled with the appellation of origin California or a geographical subdivision of the state come from within the state
  • And the wine must be completely finished in the state in which the AVA is located. This standard is more stringent than the federal labeling requirement.

4Vintage— optional

Consider the vintage in the same way that you would consider the year your car was manufactured. The year 2014 indicates that the Honda Civic was manufactured. If someone has a 2014 Honda Civic, this indicates that the automobile was manufactured in 2014. A similar concept exists in wine; the vintage denotes the calendar year in which the grapes were picked. (This marks the beginning of the winemaking process; the wines will be completed, bottled, and distributed in a year other than the one in which they were harvested.) Vintage, like designation of origin, has its own set of standards that must be followed:

  • As of May 2006, federal laws permit up to 15 percent of the blend to be derived from a vintage different than the one specified in the labelling. The regulation was intended to ensure that American wine producers were held to the same standards as their counterparts in other wine-producing countries. Previous U.S. standards demanded that 95 percent of the grapes in the bottle be from the same vintage as the bottle was purchased. This law only applies to wines that are produced outside of an American Viticultural Area (AVA) (AVA). For example, if the grape source is identified as “California,” the guideline that applies is 85 percent of the grapes from the specified vintage
  • AVA wines are held to a higher standard than non-AVA wines. For example, 95 percent of the grapes used to make a wine named Napa Valley or one of its nested or sub-appellations must come from the same vintage as the wine itself. The vintage has nothing to do with the day on which the wine was bottled.

Important Hint: Grocery shops often carry just current release wines, which can be confusing because the vintage is typically two years behind the time the wine was first made available. It is more likely that if you go to a wine shop or the tasting area of a winery, they will have a larger variety of past vintages.

5Fanciful Name— optional

There are certain wineries who utilize this marketing word to differentiate between “brands inside a brand”. They may be called after anything, ranging from specific vineyards where the grapes were grown to children of the owners, to pets of the owners, to just about anything that rhymes or sounds cool to just about anything. In other words, a vineyard may have three to four distinct Cabernet Sauvignons released in the same year, so take a few additional minutes to check the labels to ensure you know what you’re getting.

6Special Designation— optional

Special terms are frequently used on wine labels to describe unusual characteristics of the wine, such as the degree of sweetness or color.

Sometimes a wine is of such high quality that it is designated by the winemaker as a special selection or a private collection. Helpful Hint: Although some wines are more expensive, they are renowned for their superior quality.

7Vineyard Designation— optional

When it comes to wine, specific names are frequently used to describe distinctive characteristics such as sweetness or color. Sometimes the wine is of such great quality that it is labeled by the winemaker as a special selection or a private reserve. Advice: Although these wines can be more expensive, they are renowned for their superior quality and are thus much sought after.

8Estate Bottled— optional

This term legally certifies that the winery grew 100 percent of the grapes on land that it owns or controls, and that the winery crushed, fermented, finished, aged, and bottled the wine in a continuous process on the same property as the grapes were harvested. In order to be considered for certification, the vineyard and winery must be located within the viticultural area specified on the label. Helpful Hint: Wineries are ecstatic about and proud of their accomplishments.

9Alcohol Content— mandatory

This remark on a wine label specifies the percentage of alcohol by volume in the wine. The nitty-gritty stuff (warning: there will be “math-y” things in this section):

  • If the wine has an alcohol concentration of 14 percent or less, there is a tolerance of plus or minus 1.5 percent
  • Otherwise, there is no tolerance. If the wine has an alcohol content greater than 14 percent, a tolerance of plus or minus 1.0 percent is permitted
  • Otherwise, a tolerance of plus or minus 1.0 percent is permitted. It is not possible to use the tolerance to get over the 14 percent alcohol content threshold, which is the dividing line between two tax classifications. As a result, a wine that is actually 13.5 percent alcohol by volume could be labeled as 12 percent or 14 percent alcohol, but not more than 14 percent. To conclude, a wine that has 14 percent or less alcohol by volume can be classified as table wine without the inclusion of any indication of the numeric alcohol level.

An excellent suggestion is to pace yourself more slowly the greater the alcohol concentration is. Important Note2: Most red wines have more alcohol than white wines, which makes them more suitable for drinking after dinner.

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The Back Label

This is the first cousin of the appellation of origin, and it provides a significant lot of information about the wine’s production process. The bottler’s name and location must be clearly displayed on the label. There are several typical descriptions, and it might be helpful to grasp the distinctions between them. These are some examples:

  • Wine that has been produced and bottled bycertifies that the bottler has fermented 75% or more of the grapes at the specified location (for example, “Produced and Bottled by ABC Winery, St. Helena, California”). The use of this phrase in conjunction with other information on the label, such as a vineyard designation, provides the customer with crucial information about the wine’s origins and who is responsible for its creation. A wine label that says Cellared and Bottled by indicates that the bottler has subjected the wine to cellar treatment before bottling it at the specified location. The phrase “made and bottled by” indicates that the bottler fermented at least 75% of the wine at the specified location. Bottled by implies that the wine was bottled at the winery’s address, even though the grapes were harvested, crushed, fermented, finished, and aged by someone else at a different location.

BNet Contents— mandatory

The fluid volume in metric measurement must either be specified on the label or blown into the glass in order to be valid. Note: When someone mentions “bottle of wine,” they are referring to the 750mL size container that is used in the industry. 375mL half bottles and 1.5L magnums (each of which is twice as large as a 750mL bottle of wine, equating to about two bottles of wine) are the next most popular sizes.

CDeclaration of Sulfites— mandatory

Sulfite declarations must be included on the label of wines having a sulfur dioxide content of 10 parts per million or above (i.e., “Contains Sulfites”). Helpful Hint: If you are not allergic to sulfites, there is no need to be concerned about this (they can give a headache).

DGovernment Warning— mandatory

On or after November 18, 1989, all bottles of wine sold in the United States must include a health warning statement in the precise style and language required by federal laws. If you are still reading this, thank you for your patience. Then savor your next bottle of wine, knowing that you now understand why all of this information is squeezed into the wine’s label!

How to Understand a Wine Label

You’ve probably seen the label on a bottle of Chianti, Châteauneuf du Pape, Taurasior, or Alentejo and wondered just what was within. Alternatively, what if you happen to stumble upon a Californian red mix in the Rhône style? You can learn a great deal about a wine by reading the label—if you know how to decipher the obscure language used to describe the contents of the bottle.

But don’t be alarmed. There are several fundamental formulae that can assist you in deciphering the often complicated and pompous language found on wine labels.

How to Read a Wine Label

The first thing to identify is whether the wine is from the Old World (Europe, the Mediterranean, and areas of Western Asia) or the New World (the United States, Australia, and New Zealand) (any other wine-producing region). While all labels will carry the same basic information, such as the area, producer, alcohol by volume (abv), and vintage (unless nonvintage), there are some noticeable variances between the labels of different wines. Here are the distinctions in what you may expect to see on labels from these two groups of products.

Old World Wine Labels

The great majority of Old World wines will normally simply have the areas and age classes listed on the front label, with no indication of the grape varietals. Red Riojas, for example, are often made from Tempranillograpes, with the addition of grapes such as Grenache, Garnacha, and Mazuelo. (And how could anyone be unaware that Mazelois is the name given to Carignanin Rioja?) The trouble is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a Rioja that even mentions any of these grapes on the front label, much alone all of them together.

  1. The most important reason for these labeling practices is that these wines are more about a regional style than they are about the grapes themselves, which is why they are so expensive.
  2. As a result, while it may appear that manufacturers are attempting to mislead you by not identifying the grapes on their bottles, the reality is quite the contrary.
  3. Subscribe to receive the latest news, reviews, recipes, and gear sent directly to your inbox.
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  5. However, you must be aware of which grapes may be used (and are permitted to be used) in certain locations in order to complete the task.
  6. Another hallmark of an Old World label is that it may include recommendations about how to age.
  7. Each region’s age categorization laws, on the other hand, might have almost identical nomenclature yet be vastly different in practice.
  8. A bottle of Chianti bearing the designation Riserva on the label, on the other hand, has spent at least 24 months in oak barrels before spending additional three months in bottle.
  9. Compared to non-Riserva Brunello, which is aged for a total of four years (two in wood and four months in bottle), this is a significant improvement.

Here are a few tips to assist you with deciphering German labeling:

German Wine Quick Tips

The degrees of ripeness for Prädikatswein, a distinction that signifies wines of excellent quality, span from the least ripe (Kabinett) to the most ripe (Trockenbeerenauslese), with everything in between (Spätlese, Auslese, and Beerenauslese) with everything in between. The amount of maturity in the grapes might provide an indication of the sweetness of the final wine. On German wine labels, particular sweetness levels may also be indicated, such as Trocken (dry), Halbtrocken (half-dry/off-dry), and Eiswein (sweet wine) (sweet dessert wine made from frozen grapes).

And this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of scope.

When you see two names together, particularly if the first name ends with an ‘er,’ it denotes a subregion and vineyard.

Bernkasteler Badstube, on the other hand, indicates that the wine comes from the Badstube vineyard, which is located inside the Bernkastel subregion.

German wines have their own version of Crus, like Bordeaux or Burgundy.

When you see the words Grosses Gewächs on a wine label, it means “great growth” and “highest quality,” whereas Grosse Lage and Erstes Lage relate to grand cru and premier cru vineyards, respectively. Sara Littlejohn captured this image.

New World Wine Labels

When you see the words Grosses Gewächs on a wine label, it means “great growth” and “highest quality,” but Grosse Lage and Erstes Lage refer to grand cru and premier cru vineyards, respectively, on the same label. Sara Littlejohn took the photograph.

How to Read a Wine Label

When you see the words Grosses Gewächs on a wine label, it means “great growth” and “highest quality,” whereas Grosse Lage and Erstes Lage denote grand cru and premier cru vineyards, respectively. Sara Littlejohn took the photograph.

  1. 1 Identify the nation that produced the wine by looking up its name. You can identify where the wine was manufactured by looking at the label
  2. If it was produced in certain countries, it is considered Old World wine. Whenever someone refers to a wine as being from the “Old World,” they are referring to it as having been produced in one of the nations that are considered to be the first country to produce wine. Some individuals choose Old World wines simply because they respect the extensive history that has gone into the production of these wines
  3. For others, it is a matter of personal preference.
  • Old World wines are often lower in alcohol concentration, lighter in flavor, and more restrained in their presentation – though this is not always the case. France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Austria, Croatia, Romania, Georgia, Hungary, Switzerland, Israel, and Lebanon are among the countries that are believed to be the origin of winemaking.
  • Secondly, look for a quality certification. Each nation has its own system of evaluating its own wines, which is controlled and graded in the same way as Old World wines are. On a scale from “superior quality” wines to “table” wines, which are the lowest-rated daily wines, they are ranked from highest to lowest quality. The following are the quality classifications for numerous European wine countries, listed in descending order of quality from highest to lowest:
  • France: AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin), VDQS (Vines of Superior Quality), Vins de Pays (Country Wine), Vins de Table (Table Wine)
  • Italy: AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin)
  • Spain: AOC (Appellation of Controlled Origin)
  • In Germany, there are several quality wine designations, including QWSA (Quality Wine with Special Attributes), QBA (Quality Wine from Specific Appellations), Deutscher Landwein (Superior Table Wine), and Deutscher Tafelwein (Simple Table Wine). Wines from Italy are classified as DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), DOC (Denomination of Controlled Origin), IGT (Typical Geographical Indication), Vini di Tavola (Table Wines), and others. Spain has two types of designations: DO (Denomination of Origin) and DOC (Denomination of Qualified Origin). Portugal has only one classification for wine, and it is DO (Denomination of Controlled Origin), which indicates that the wine is of high quality.
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  • s3 Look for the year on the label to find out what year the wine was made. The majority of wines are vintage wines, and the year that the wine was produced will be indicated on the label. Vintage wines are made from grapes that were harvested in the same year as the wine is produced, and they are typically intended to be aged. These wines are prepared from a combination of grapes from several harvest years and are not intended to be matured
  • Instead, they are consumed young.
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  • s3 In order to determine the vintage of a wine, look for the year on the bottle. Wines made in a particular year are known as vintage wines, and the year of production is indicated on the label. Vintage wines are created from grapes that were harvested in the same year as the wine is produced, and they are often meant to be cellared. Non-vintage wines are prepared from a combination of grapes harvested at different times throughout the year and are not intended to be aged.
  • 4 Find out what the name of the particular location of origin is. This information should be shown clearly on the front of the label to ensure that it is easily found. In Europe, the majority of wine producers name their bottles according to the location from where they are sourced, rather than according to the variety of grape used. It is assumed by vintners that the customer will be knowledgeable enough to understand that “Red Burgundy” (Burgundy is a region in France) refers to “Pinot Noir.” There are many different types of grapes grown in different regions, resulting in a wide range of different types of wine.
  • In France, the Alsace area provides fruity, Germanic wines
  • The Bordeaux region produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
  • The Champagne region produces sparkling white wines
  • And the Champagne region produces sparkling red wines. Beaujolais produces a light red wine that is released each year in November and is intended to be consumed immediately after production. Chianti is not a variety of grape, but rather a location in Italy where Chianti wine is produced.
  • 5 Identify the geographical area. When it comes to describing the place that produced the wine, high-quality wines are frequently highly detailed. According to general rule, the more particular the area is designated, the more well-known the vineyard
  • 5 Decide on the geographical area. When it comes to describing the place that produced the wine, high-quality wines are typically highly detailed. In general, the more particular the area is designated, the more well-known the vineyard
  • Nevertheless,
  • 6 Choose a bottle shape that complements the wine you intend to drink. European wines are bottled according to their type, therefore the form of the bottle will provide you with a clue as to what is within it. Unless you’re looking for a certain sort of wine, you don’t have to read any of the labels unless the bottle isn’t fit for that type of wine.
  • Bordeaux wines are contained in straight, high-shouldered bottles made of green glass for red wines and clear glass for white wines. (The shoulder is the point at which the diameter of the bottle rises.) Burgundy, the Loire, and the Rhone are three regions in France that use bottles with gently rounded shoulders. Outside of France, this type of bottle may contain Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, depending on the region. Bottles that are tall and slender are typically from Germany and Alsace, and they contain Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, or the sweet dessert wine Gewurztraminer, among other varieties.
  1. 1 Determine the name of the nation that the person is from. Find out which nation produced the wine in order to establish if it is a New World or an Old World wine. This information should be prominently displayed on the front label of the package. Alternatively, it may be located on the rear label if it is not on the front label.
  • New World wines have a tendency to be quite variable, and a great lot of experimenting goes into the development of new and unique types. Warmer temperatures create wines that have stronger, fruitier tastes and are more full-bodied than Old World wines, and they often have a higher alcohol percentage as a result of the higher alcohol content. Wines from the New World are produced in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. California wines will often state whether they are from Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, or another wine-producing region in the state.
  • 2Look for the brand name on the label. New World wines are distinguished by the fact that their brand name is also the name of the vineyard that produced the wine, and this name will usually be the most prominent name on the label. It will be written in the biggest font size possible, and it will typically appear at the top of the front label
  • Nevertheless, 3 Determine a date for the start of manufacturing. When it comes to wines, they are often classified as vintage, which means that they may be identified by the year in which they were created. It is possible to age a bottle of wine in order to allow its flavor to develop and mature. There are also non-vintage wines, which are prepared from grapes that were picked at different times during the year. These wines are not intended to be matured
  • Instead, they are meant to be enjoyed young.
  • First, check the label to see whether there is a date on it. Try looking at both the front and back labels to see if you can discover the date on either one of them. Most of the time, it will be a single year, such as 1998 or 2014
  • If you are unable to locate the date on the label, it is possible that it is printed on a sticker attached to the bottle’s neck.
  • 4 Look for the sort of grape that was utilized. In most cases, this is the second most prominent piece of wording on the label, behind the brand name. When it comes to New World wines, they label their bottles according to the variety of grape that was used to make the wine. You don’t need to memorize which varieties of wine are produced in which regions
  • All you need to know is which types of wine (i.e. which types of grape – or varietal) you prefer drinking.
  • If a specific varietal is specified, at least 75% of the wine must be made from that particular kind of grape. (Wine made from a blend of grape varieties must be labeled with a generic name such as “table wine.”)
  • At the moment, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely consumed wine in the world. It is a full-bodied red wine with flavors of black cherry, baking spices, black currant, and cedar
  • It can be served chilled. In comparison to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is a middle-weight red wine that is fruitier and smoother (with less tannins) in flavor. Syrah is a full-bodied red wine with flavors of violet, black pepper, cherry, and blueberry that can be found in small quantities. Australia is home to a large number of Syrah (or Shiraz) wineries. Chardonnay is a white wine that is medium- to full-bodied and can contain flavors of citrus, pear, apple, butterscotch, cinnamon, and toasted caramel
  • It is also known as “the French wine of the South.” Pinot Grigio (also known as Pino Gris) is a light-bodied white wine with notes of citrus, pear, apple, floral, and cheese rind
  • Sauvignon Blanc is an aggressively citrus (grapefruit) white wine with notes of melon, mint, green pepper, and grass
  • And Chardonnay is a light-bodied white wine with notes of citrus, pear, apple, floral, and cheese rind. It is a light to medium-bodied wine with a fruity flavor.
  • 5Select the name of a vineyard from the list. If a single vineyard is listed on a bottle of American wine, such as “Jackson Estate Vineyard,” then at least 95 percent of the grapes used to create that wine must have come from that specific vineyard, according to the Wine Institute. Not all wines will have the name of the vineyard printed on the label, but some may, especially if the winery believes that the vineyard contributes to the wine’s unique characteristics. 6 Take note of the viticultural region. A viticultural area is a region, such as Napa Valley, that has been formally recognized as such because of its high-quality wines. This will be indicated on the label, showing that at least 85 percent of the grapes used in the production of the wine were cultivated in that region. 7 Look for the words “estate bottled” in the text. In order for a wine label to use the words “estate bottled,” it must be true that 100 percent of the grapes in that wine were produced, processed, fermented, and bottled at the same place.
  • On the front of the label, the words “estate bottled” are frequently found next to the vintage (year) designation.
  • 8 Look for the contents of the net. The amount of wine in the bottle must be clearly labeled on the outside of the bottle. In the case of a standard-sized bottle, this is typically 750 milliliters. On the label or inscribed onto the glass of the bottle itself will be the amount of liquid contained within it.
  • Large bottles of wine are also available for purchase. Magnums are a term used to describe certain types of firearms. Approximately 1.5 Liters is included in each of these bottles, which is the equal of two bottles of wine.
  • 9 Check the amount of alcohol in the drink. Typically, the alcohol concentration in wines ranges from around 7 percent to as high as 23 percent. Dry wines have a greater alcohol level per volume consumed than sweet wines, while New World wines tend to have a higher alcohol content per volume consumed than Old World wines.
  • Nineteenth, determine the amount of alcohol in the drink. Most wines contain between 7 and 23 percent alcohol by volume, depending on the variety. Sweeter wines include a larger proportion of alcohol than dryer wines, while New World wines often contain a higher percentage of alcohol than Old World wines.
  • 10 Pay close attention to the wine ratings shown on the shelf of a store. The Wine Spectator publishes an extensive list of wines that have been tasted and rated according to a very specific system developed by the publication itself. These ratings are frequently displayed on the shelf beneath the wine bottle in wine stores that sell wine. If you want to experiment with a new wine, this is a good place to start, even though personal preference always takes precedence over others’ opinions.
  • In the opinion of the Wine Spectator, a wine with a grade of 95-100 is either “excellent” or “classic.” An outstanding wine with unusually high character and style is indicated by a 90-94 rating. The range of 85-89 describes a “very good” wine with distinguishing characteristics
  • A decent wine receives an 80-84 grade, indicating that it is “solid and well-crafted.” “Middling” wine is defined as one that is palatable but has flaws, and the range 75-79 represents this type of wine. Wines with a rating of less than 74 are not recommended
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In the opinion of the Wine Spectator, a wine with a grade of 95-100 is “excellent” or “classic.” An superb wine with extremely high character and style is indicated by a 90-94 score. With a score of 85-89, a “very good” wine with distinctive characteristics is described. Good wine receives an 80-84 grade, meaning it is “solid and well-crafted.” “Middling” wine is defined as one that is palatable but has flaws, and the range 75-79 defines this. There are no recommendations for wines with ratings lower than 74 points.

  • Question When it comes to wine, what’s the difference between Old World and New World? Samuel Bogue is a sommelier situated in the Californian city of San Francisco. As the Wine Director of the prestigious Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, he also serves as a wine consultant for a number of other top restaurants in the San Francisco Bay region. He received his Sommelier license in 2013 and has since been honored as a Zagat “30 Under 30” award winner as well as a Star Chefs Rising Star in the culinary world. Certified Sommelier Professional Answer Old World wines have a tendency to be lighter in color. Both the New and the Old Worlds have high-quality grapes that may be used to create excellent wines, although the climate in the Old World is usually considered to be somewhat more favorable for grape production. It’s a little colder overall, which helps the grapes to naturally develop with more acidity and less sugar, resulting in a more complex wine. As a result, Old World wines are often fresh and acidic, with less alcohol than their modern counterparts. New World wines are often highly fruity and full-bodied, and generally contain higher levels of alcohol.

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  • The majority of wine consumers have purchased a bottle of wine due of the label’s uniqueness or originality. It’s important to remember that how a wine label appears has nothing to do with the quality of wine contained within the bottle.

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About This Article

Summary of the ArticleX When you’re reading a wine label, keep an eye out for the name of the nation from where the wine is sourced. If it’s from Europe, it will additionally state the area it originates from, such as Champagne in the case of Champagne. If it comes from somewhere else, the label will indicate the sort of grape that was used to manufacture the wine, such as Merlot. You may determine the grade of your European wine by checking for country-specific adjectives that define “high quality” wines at the top of the line to “table” wines at the bottom of the line, among other things.

Continue reading the post to discover more from our Wine Consultant co-author, including how to determine the year in which your wine was produced. Did you find this overview to be helpful? Thank you to all writers for contributing to this page, which has been viewed 35,291 times so far.

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These few hints will surely assist you in understanding what you’re reading.

Have you ever looked at a wine label and thought to yourselfwhat the heck does this all mean?Reading a wine label can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But with a few tips and tricks in your arsenal, you can buy a bottle of wine with confidence, knowing exactly what’s inside.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed If you’re feeling a little lost while reading, it might be helpful to familiarize yourself with this glossary of important wine terms before continuing.

1.First, determine what country the wine is from.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed Wines may be divided into two categories: those from the old world and those from the new world. Simply said, old world wines are those produced in Europe, whereas new world wines are those produced in other parts of the world. This is significant because old world (sometimes known as European) wines are frequently branded in a different manner than their new world counterparts. Old world wines, in contrast to new world wines, are less likely to exhibit the grape variety that was used in the production of the wine.

2.Next, take a closer look at the region (called an appellation) or sub-appelation.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed Despite the fact that it may seem absurd, wines actually vary substantially depending on where they are produced. For example, you could imagine that all French red wine is the same, however the quality of the wine differs greatly depending on the location from which it is sourced. In comparison to red wines from Burgundy, a red wine from Bordeaux has a distinct flavor and aroma. The wines come from a variety of soil types, are cultivated in a variety of climates, and are produced from a variety of grape varieties.

Fortunately, most countries have established a system of appellations (also known as legally defined and geographically protected areas) where wine can be grown, which is beneficial to consumers.

3.Check if the label displays the grape variety.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed The grape varietal will be displayed immediately on the label of most new world wines (and some old world wines as well). In the wine industry, you could find terms like “Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon,” “Mendoza Malbec,” and “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.” You can tell what you’re getting with these wines since you can read the label and know precisely what you’re getting.

4.If no wine variety is listed, the region will help you determine it.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed The distinction between a red wine from Burgundy and a red wine from Bordeaux has already been addressed. This is due to the fact that specific wine areas produce wine from specific grapes. Pinot Noir is the grape variety used in the production of red wine from Burgundy. In order to make red wine from Bordeaux, a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot must be used in the production. A red wine from Spain’s Ribera del Duero region is almost certainly made from Tempranillo grapes.

I understand that everything appears to be quite complicated, but keep in mind that you are not need to know everything by heart.

The most important lesson learned is to pay close attention to the wine area listed on the label. After that, a short Google search will assist you in determining what type of wine is included within the bottle.

5.Look at the alcohol by volume.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed While the ABV (alcohol by volume) of a wine does not reveal everything about it, it does provide some information. The proportion of alcohol by volume in a wine is always mentioned on the label as a percentage. The average alcohol by volume (ABV) of most white wines is 10-13 percent, but the average ABV of most red wines is 11 percent to 15 percent. So, what does all of this imply? Wines with greater alcohol by volume (ABV) are produced for a variety of reasons, including the grape type used and the environment in which it is produced.

A lighter-bodied, easier-to-drink wine is what you may expect if you see another bottle, such as a red blend from Sonoma that has 12 percent alcohol by volume (or less).

If you like chilled, lighter wines, look for bottles with a lower alcohol by volume (ABV) rating.

6.Look at the year the wine was harvested, aka the vintage.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed News The ABV (alcohol by volume) of a wine does not reveal everything about the wine; however, it can provide some insight. On the label of a bottle of wine, the proportion of alcohol by volume is always shown. The average alcohol by volume (ABV) of most white wines is 10-13 percent, whereas the average ABV of most red wines is 11-15 percent. Then, what is the ramifications of this? The grape variety and climate in which the grapes are grown are two factors that contribute to the ABV of wines.

A lighter-bodied, easier-to-drink wine is what you may expect if you see another bottle, such as a red blend from Sonoma that is 12 percent alcohol.

When it comes to chill-able and lighter wines, look for bottles with a lower alcohol content.

7.Or check if the label displays an age classification.

CVNEWhile this is more applicable to the old world wines we discussed before, certain areas employ an age classification system that is indicated on the bottle. Rioja is perhaps the most well-known example. Rioja wines must adhere to certain aging criteria, which begin with generic wines (which have no aging requirements) and go through the categories of “crianza,” “rioja,” and eventually “gran reserva” (wines that have been aged for at least five years, with two of those years being in the barrel and two in the bottle.) So, why should you be concerned?

Wines that are younger in age tend to be a little more rough and tannic.

8.And see if the label displays any quality classifications.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed Most wine regions have some sort of classification system in place, and being able to recognize them will help you understand wine labels more effectively. American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) are divisions of regions in the United States (AVAs). They are referred to as DOCs in Italy. Wines labeled DOC, DOCG, and IGT are classified according to the most rigid classification systems, and as a result, they are typically of high quality. When it comes to Spanish wines, search for those with the DOP, DOC, or VT designations to ensure the highest quality.

When it comes to Burgundy and Bordeaux, things become a little more complicated because these two areas have their own quality assurance processes.

When it comes to first-growth chateaux wines, you may expect to pay around $1,000 per bottle (for those who are interested).

9.If you’re buying Riesling, look for an indication of the ripeness level.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed It is extremely difficult to purchase Riesling wine. Despite the fact that most people think of Riesling as a particularly sweet dessert wine, this is not necessarily the case. The sweetness level of most Rieslings will be shown on the label of the bottle in some way. You should be able to tell whether an American riesling is dry, off-dry, or sweet from the bottle. If the wine is dry or off-dry, the word “trocken” or “kabinett” will be used to describe it, whereas sweet wines will be labeled as “spätlese,” “auslese,” or “beerenauslese.” Austrian Rieslings, on the other hand, are always dry, therefore you may not notice any mention of this on the label at all.

10.And finally, consider the producer.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed Is there a general rule of thumb? If you come across a bottle of wine that you particularly adore, make a note of the producer. On the majority of wine labels, the name of the maker is prominently displayed at the top of the bottle. In some cases (primarily French wines), it is listed in smaller print at the bottom of the label, making it a little less obvious. Some of the most well-known manufacturers, such as R. López de Heredia, Marchesi Antinori, and Louis Jadot, to mention a few, may already be familiar to you.

If you’re just getting started with wine, it’s possible that you’ll need to sample a large number of bottles before you can figure out which winemakers you prefer.

Photograph by Hannah Loewentheil for BuzzFeed News Are there any good guidelines? Make a note of the winery’s name and address if you come across a bottle of wine you really like. When it comes to wines, the producer is usually prominently displayed at the top of each bottle. In some cases (primarily French wines), it is listed in smaller print at the bottom of the label, making it a little more difficult to locate on the shelf. Some big-name producers, such as R. López de Heredia, Marchesi Antinori, and Louis Jadot, to name a few, might already be familiar to you.

If you’re just getting started with wine, it’s possible that you’ll need to sample a large number of different bottles before you can figure out which producers you like the best.

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