I mean, do you understand the label on your bottle of wine?
If you don’t, this week’s article is for you!
I totally understand, going to a supermarket, wine shop or even a restaurant can sometimes be daunting when you have to choose a bottle of wine.
There are so many brands, which one can I choose?
How can I tell that this bottle is better than this one?
I hear you.
Well, you need to have some basic knowledge to know what’s behind each wine appellation (head here if you didn’t read my article about what an appellation is yet), but this can also help.
Make it into a game! Wear the glasses of the investigator and ask yourself these questions:
- Name: What’s the name on it? Winery name or brand name we don’t care, we just want to know which one is it.
- Place: Where does your wine come from? Which region, which country? The more specific it is, the better.
- Grape: Which grape variety is it? Is it a wine made with various grape varieties or just one? Or which wine appellation is it? If an appellation is written on the label, you know the grape(s) used. For example, behind white Burgundy wines you have Chardonnay grapes.
- Vintage: Which year this wine was harvested? Is it an old wine? Was it a good or bad year?
- Alcohol: What is the percentage of alcohol by volume? Wines around 14% are strong and heavy wines in general.
- Price: Is it an expensive wine or medium-low price?
- Award: does it have an award or medal? Which one is it? From which place? Is it an international award or a local one?
It is common sense, just paying attention and asking yourself logical and easy questions.
Yes, it takes effort, but there is no magical solution here. If you want to learn something, you have to make some effort. Doing this will help you a lot in making your own judgement and choice.
Be adventurous and curious, try new wines!
Also understand that wine from Europe will have more rules than wine from outside Europe, commonly called ‘new world wines’. Their label will be also different.
Some others words can be written on the label as well, such as:
- Estate Bottled wine, this one means that the wine was bottled at the winery and made there as well. Yes, there are some wines that are produced in one place, and bottled and aged elsewhere.
- Reserve/a, First growth…it depends. Each wine region has its own rules. For example, in Chile there are no rules behind it, it is just a marketing tool, but in the case of Spain, ‘Reserva’ means that the wine was aged for at least 36 months with a minimum of 12 months in contact with oak (in barrel).
- Old vines, the winery can write this on the label to tell that the wine comes from old vines. When a wine come from old vines, in general the grapes are more concentrated and it is better. There are no rules behind this so the vines used can either be 15 years old or more than 100 years old!
- Contains Sulfites is a label requirement for some countries such as the U.S. In general every wine contains sulfites. They come from the vineyard or winemaking process. It helps preserve the freshness of the grape and wine.
Now, it’s your turn, I want to hear how you previously chose your wine up until now? Perhaps you chose it based on price or because you knew it was a good one.
Practise and have fun doing it! There are no good or bad ways to do it, just make your own judgement about it!
Remember wine is fun and is one of life’s great pleasures,