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Wine labels are potentially the source of a great deal of very useful information but they can sometimes be more than a touch confusing. In essence you should be able to see where the wine is from, who made it and where it was made. Some labels will tell you grape varieties (but not all) and even something about the wine making (but only when the winemaker chooses to do so).
What follows is a quick guide to what you ought to look for and some of the terms you might come across and their meaning. When you look at a wine label you should be looking for:
The name of the producer and the vintage. It sounds glaringly obvious doesn't it but it's amazing how quickly you can find yourself with a bottle on your rack you weren’t quite expecting! Producer names are vitally important because you’ll find in some areas certain surnames are very common and they only way to differentiate the wines is either with forenames or individual estate names.
Be wary… sometimes less good wines trade on the fact that they share a similar name with a much better estate. Vintage is important because they are unique and whilst one year might be suitable for 10 years ageing, the following could have been an annus horribilis that either needs drunk up straight away, or not bought at all.
The overall impression of the label. If it's come from a poor cellar the label can tell you about possible problems such as damp that may have adversely affected the wine. Also, it pays to keep an eye out for spelling mistakes or any other distortion that could raise questions about the authenticity of the wine. These are especially important when you’re away from home. A sight of the label is your opportunity to reject a bottle before it's uncorked!
Some common wine terms and what they mean..
For further information on Bordeaux wine labels, visit:
For further information on what you might find on Burgundy wine labels, visit:
For further information on German wine labels, visit:
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