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The Anatomy Of A Wine Label: Understanding The Fine Print


The Anatomy Of A Wine Label: Understanding The Fine Print

Wine labels are often loaded with a lot of information and it is important to decipher it to understand what’s in the bottle. Here are the basics of a wine label that a wine consumer should know while selecting a bottle of wine.

Wine Producer Or Brand Name

Some wine bottles have the wine producer’s name and some have a brand name if the wine is made by a bigger wine company producing many wines. This is the first thing to take note of.The cost, quality and brand popularity can be assessed by the producer or brand information.

Grape Variety Or Appellation Of Origin Status

The primary ingredient of a wine, the grape variety or varieties used to make a particular wine are mentioned on the label. If this information is missing, then look for the appellation of origin status which suggests the grape variety allowed as per the rules of the region to make that particular wine. Two or more varieties are mentioned if the wine is a blend. You can choose a wine on the basis of varietal notes that appeal to you.


Vintage is the year mentioned on the label. It suggests the year that the grapes were harvested. Some wines have no year mentioned suggesting them to be non-vintage (multi-vintage) wines that is grapes belong to different years. This information on a label can help buy a wine from a better vintage.


Region suggests where the grapes were grownWine from a larger area will be comparatively low in value than wines which come from a specific vineyard that indicates higher equality. Such vineyard sites are also mentioned with the regional appellations. If a person is looking for a wine from a particular region or climate, this information is handy.

Special Designations

Wine with superior characteristics that denote higher quality, degree of sweetness, colour have special mention on the wine label and sometimes wine is designated as a privé or reserve suggesting its high standard. Higher quality wine can be chosen with the help of special designations mentioned on the label.


Alcohol content mentioned on the wine label is alcohol by volume measurement.

Estate Bottled

Estate bottled certifies legally that the winery grew 100% of the grapes on land (vineyard) it owns and that the wine is made (winery) and bottled on the same property. This information is optional.

Contains Sulfites

A mandatory mention on the label for wines which have a level of 10 parts per million or greater of sulfur dioxide. People prone to allergies or ill-health effects by sulfur dioxide should look out for this bit of information.

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