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How to Read a Wine Label

Posted on May 26, 2020

Do you ever catch yourself becoming a little confused by wine labels while at the grocery store, dining at a restaurant or even on wine tours? We want you to know you are not alone and it can definitely be a little tricky to fully understand what you are looking at when it comes to wine labels. When you sit down for your next Sonoma wine tasting or Napa wine tasting experience, take a moment to look at the wine label. We do not want you to be surprised when a bottle of white wine comes to the table when you thought you had ordered red wine! Learning to be able to decipher what the wine label is describing will only help you choose the correct wine you are searching for. We have some simple tips to help uncover the meaning behind that wine label.

Typically there will be around nine different components on the front of a wine bottle explaining many characteristics of the wine inside the bottle. Three components that are going to be the most important things to look for are the following:

Brand Name 

The Brand Name is the name of the winery who produced and bottled this particular wine. Very important if you are looking for a particular wine from a specific winery. The Brand Name is usually located on the front label near the top center but can also be found in other locations on the bottle.

Wine Type

The Wine Type is going to show, you guessed it, what type of wine it is. Wines are identified by the grape they are made of. For example, a Chardonnay wine is made from Chardonnay grapes. If the wine consists of multiple types of grapes, or known as a “blend”, most bottles will list the percentage of what grapes are used to make up the wine.

Vintage

The Vintage on a wine bottle refers to the year the grapes were harvested to produce the wine. Some wines include multiple years or multiple vintages, so they will be labeled N.V. for “Non-Vintage.” Knowing the vintage of the year is very important as it will give an insight as to how the wine will taste, if it was a good year weather wise for the grapes that were harvested. Also, in some instances the older and more aged a wine is, the more the price point will be impacted.

Some additional points of what is included on the wine label may be the vineyard destination, the alcohol content, appellation of origin, a brand name from the winery, etc. All characteristics make up the label for a wine and immediately tell a story about that wine. Taking some wine tours with family and friends can be a great way to learn more about specific wines that you enjoy. So the next time you are contemplating between which wine, focus on the information given and the story each label shares.

With your new label reading tips in mind now you’ll surely be the expert of wine labels in your next Sonoma wine tasting or Napa wine tasting trip! When you are ready to put your wine label reading skills to the test and taste some wine join us for one of our Join-In Wine Tours! Call us at 707-253-2732 or visit our website  to book your wine tours today!

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