Understanding Wine- Labels

Edited by Shivangi Srivastava


Continuing our journey, we now need to understand why the label holds so much importance. Ever wondered if there was no label to a wine bottle, how would you know which one is your favorite wine? How would you assure yourself that the wine is aged properly? Or, is it potable as per the guided laws of your country or the winemakers’, so to say? You may be deceived into believing that you got your wine right but instead when you open it is completely different.  

This is why labeling plays a key role in identifying the wine and preserves the sanctity of the winery’s reputation. Please note every wine-producing country has their own governing laws which differ from the other. To keep this post short and simple to understand, we would just understand the basic aspects which are used for labeling. They are majorly divided into five parts, namely, Producer or Name, Region, Variety or Appellation, Vintage or Non-Vintage, and Alcohol by Volume. Let’s look at them individually.

Producer or Name

It is an integral part otherwise no one would know who has created that masterpiece. It would be like depriving Leonardo da Vinci of The Mona Lisa if it was not associated with his name on it. The name could be in bold letters or in small texts. The bold letter is for obvious reasons. Small text is generally done to highlight other aspects than the producer. Please be noted, some of the wines highlight just the brand name but are a part of larger companies.


Well, now we know the name or the producer but where did the wine come from? Hence, the region becomes another important aspect. It not only tells you where the wine was made but by knowing the region we get to know the wine a bit more, even before we open the bottle. So, when you know the region you make a perception about the warmness or coolness in the temperature and how it would affect the grape within.

Variety or Appellation

Alright, now we know the producer and region but what about the grapes? Whether the wine is White or Red? What can you expect it to taste like? For that, you look for variety on the label. This is important because then you get to know how the grape would taste once you have your first sip. Appellations are generally printed with the French bottles of wines and refer to the generic style of the region rather than a particular grape varietal. It would be better to understand Appellations when we start looking deeper into French wines. At this stage, we stick to the varieties which are mentioned on the label.

Vintage or Non-Vintage (NV)

Why is it important to know which year the wine was made? Well, it is a complex answer in a Sommelier’s language but to simplify, it indicates the harvesting year. If you think all the delicious wine which you drink comes from a single vintage every year, then let me pop this bubble for you. As mentioned, not all years produce a terrific harvest, many wines come with a Non-Vintage label. That is why they are blended from the previous years to ensure that you get the same taste every time. Most of the commercially produced wines will be Non-Vintages these days, due to high demand, and with the vintages one, the producer can charge higher prices.

Alcohol by Volume (ABV)

The other factor which not many people are interested in is the Alcohol within the bottle. The only reason I say this, this important detail is mostly for the governing body and winemaker to ensure that wine is not tampered with and the alcohol content is as per age-old norms. The alcohol level actually says a lot about wine. Will it be full-bodied or light-bodied? What type of finish can you expect? And so on. Honestly, I have never come across any of my friends, who are not from the industry, ever telling me how much alcohol was in a bottle of wine. All they believe is in drinking a glass of wine. More the alcohol for them, the better it is.

So in entirety, a label of the wine bottle says a lot about it, even before it is either touched or opened by you. With all the knowledge we have acquired from the previous articles, I hope the vast topic of wines is getting condensed for you to understand. We will keep continuing our journey onwards in pursuit of acquiring further knowledge about wines.

Stay tuned for more wine!


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