Reading Portuguese Wine Labels

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 at 12:00 am

porto wineWine is made all over the world. Different countries use different systems in cultivating the grapes processing them and making them into wine that is distinctly their own. Although some of these methods may be similar at some points, no wine making system would be exactly alike. Some of the finest wine makers rely on their own secrets of the trade that make them unique enough. With all these differences in wine making methods, labeling of the wines would obviously be different.

Different countries usually rely on their own method of labeling their wines in a way that they can easily understand. Such labeling would at most times use the native language of each country, making them quite difficult to classify and interpret when brought to another country. That is why it is important for wine collectors and number of avid wine connoisseurs to be able to understand how to interpret wine labels of other countries. One country of note would be Portugal.

Portugal is a country that is famous for its wines. Not only that, it is the country considered to have the oldest demarcated wine appellation in the world which is the Douro. The Portuguese winemakers are serious in ensuring the quality of the wines that they produce and their classification systems guarantee each wine’s origin, style and validity.

The Portuguese wine labels contain the information needed by the governing councils to assure the quality as well as the authenticity of the different wines that come from each of the demarcated region. Here is a quick look at them:

DOC (Denominacao de Origem Controlada)

This is an appellation controllee. This indicates that the wine belonging into this classification is of superior quality. It also is indicative of superior wines that come from a specified region in Portugal. Wines in this category can also be labeled as VQPRD (Vinho de Qualidade Produzido em Regiao Determinada) or in English, the Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR)

IPR (Indicacao de Provenienca Reglamentada)

This term means "wine of controlled origin". This was a Portuguese classification system that was introduced during the 1990’s to determine Portuguese wines belonging at the intermediate quality level. Perceived improvement in quality of wines previously included in this classification may be promoted into the DOC level.

Vinho regional

This is the term for "regional wine". This is considered as a lowly classification for wines made in Portuguese wine regions that cover large areas and with large quantities of wine being produced.

Vinho de Mesa

Table wines. This is the classification for Portuguese wines that do not fit into the previous three categories. For this category, the rules that are put into effect in the whole European Union can also be applied here.

The Portuguese wine regulating bodies also require Portuguese wine labels to include the following information:

  • Country of Origin
  • Appellation of Origin
  • Quality Standard Classification
  • Vintage
  • Name/address of producer/brand owner
  • Bottle content
  • Alcohol Content
  • Authenticity Seal