Reading The Wine Label
Shopping for wine can be a daunting task, especially when you arrive at the shop to find an overwhelming selection. To make it easier when you get to the shelves, here’s how to master the art of reading wine labels.
To make it simple, we’ve broken it down to 5 parts:
- The name or producer of the wine – This one is fairly straightforward as it is usually the brand name on the bottle or the manufacturer behind the production of the wine. For example, Don Miguel Gascón is our brand. This helps you know if it’s a producer you can trust.
- Where the wine came from – The region is printed on the label and indicates where the wine grapes were sourced, which often tells you the quality. So when you see a bottle of Malbec, it’s likely that the better selections are from Mendoza. With a little homework, you’ll be able to know the best areas for each wine.
- The variety of wine – This will also be a prominent part of the label as it signifies the type of grape or grapes used, such as a Merlot or a specific blend. This is basically the flavor of the wine. For example, Malbec is a variety that is known for dark fruit flavors that intertwine with notes of spice, licorice and chocolate. This information, along with the name and region, can easily help determine the overall quality and taste.
- Year of the wine – For those familiar with vintage wines, this will help greatly since those particular selections get better with age. However, the earlier the year does not always mean the better the wine. French Bordeaux improves as it gets older, while New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is meant to be drank sooner for a crisp, fresh taste.
- Alcohol by Volume – The alcohol level can indicate other aspects of the wine as well. European wines are often 13.5% ABV or higher when they are high quality. In the States, higher alcohol levels can give a general hint that the taste will be richer and fruit flavors will be stronger.
The next time you’re at the store, you won’t only be able to pick out a wine for yourself, but you’ll be able to show off some wine knowledge at dinner by using the label as your cue card. Cheers to that.