​Useful Tips On Reading Wine Labels

Sep 16th 2018

Have ever felt frustrated when going through the wine list at a restaurant? What do professionals know that you don't?

Here is a sneak peek into how to read wine labels.

Labeled By Grape Variety

A wine is labeled by grape variety if you see a bottle labeled with “grape” words such as Albariño or Cabernet Sauvignon. There are thousands of different wine varieties and it is actually possible to label wines with more than one grape.

Varietal Labeling doesn't guarantee that the labeled wine is 100 percent of the listed variety. Each country has its own set of minimum requirements when it comes to labeling wine by varietal labeling:

  • 75 percent USA (with the exception of Oregon that requires 90 percent)
  • 80 percent Argentina
  • 85 percent Australia, Austria, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, Portugal, and the United Kingdom

  • Labeled By Region

    Wines such as Sancerre, Bordeaux, Chablis, Rioja, and Chianti are labeled by region. Regional labeling of wines is usually prevalent in old world wine nations such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. This form of labeling is believed to have been from an era when different kinds of varieties grew together in the same vineyards but were blended together into wine.

    Labeled By Name

    More often than not, these wines are named after the wine producer or a fantasy name. Generally, these are unusual wines or blends that don't meet the wine laws of a specific region. For instance, Tuscan wines that are made with French-origin grapes such as Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot are not permitted to be labeled as Italian regional wines.