Understanding Wine Labels

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007 at 12:00 am

wine labelWine labels are made in order to help provide all the essential information needed by wine buyers. The labeling is an important part of every wine and knowing how to read out the information in it can tell you everything that you need to now about certain types of wines.

In fact, the United States has required its wines to provide clear labeling information, regardless of whether it is produced locally or imported. This is to allow wine buyers to have all the necessary information that they need about the wines available in the market. Here is just some of the essential information that one can get from most wine labels.

Name

This could be a brand name or the name of the bottler or where the wine cams from.

Alcohol Content

This is being required for labels of wine in the United States. The alcohol content must also depend on which type of wine produced. For example, common table wines should have about 7 to 14 percent alcohol by volume, plus or minus about 1.5 percent. But alcohol content should not exceed more than 14 percent or even go lower than the 7 percent allowed for table wines. A different alcohol content than what is allowed and such wines would be reclassified into a different category.

Vintage year

The vintage year (the year that the grapes used in the wine were harvested) should be listed on the proper wine bottle label. As for getting the vintage year, ninety-five percent of the grapes that the wine is made of should have been picked during a stated year in order to list a certain vintage year on the label. On the other hand, if more than five percent of the grapes were harvested as belonging to different years, the label will list the wine as NV, or a non-vintage wine.

Appellation

This is the term used for the area from where the wine’s grapes were grown. Vineyards or wine regions in the US are strictly regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. In order for a certain wine to have an American Viticultural Area, or AVA listed on its label, it has to have at least 85 percent of the grapes coming from that certain AVA.

Type of wine

The type of wine that the bottle contains is also another information that can be taken from the wine label. The label should list information whether a bottle is a table wine or desert wine. In order for the label to list a certain varietal name, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, it should at least have 75 percent of the grapes used in producing the wine coming from the appropriate grape variety.

Volume of the bottle

The volume of the bottle is stated on the label in millimeters. The volume information may also be molded into the glass bottle itself.

Estate

Bottled wines with its labels listing the estate should have all of the grapes used to produce the said wine grown on the land controlled by a given vineyard or estate. The location or locations of the said estates must be all found within just a single AVA.

In addition to having the estate name listed on the label, all the grapes must be processed, fermented, and bottled into the finished product all in one operation and without any interruptions at the same location or estate.