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Five secrets to reading a wine label like a pro

by , 19 November 2013

If you've ever been overwhelmed by the choice of wines out there, we're willing to bet the first thing you do is turn over the bottle and read the wine label. Did you land up more confused than you were before? If so, this article is for you! We'll show you the ins and outs of reading a wine label like a pro…

To be able to pick up a good bottle when shopping for wine, you need to understand the clues on the wine label that indicates of what’s inside.

Here’s how to do it…

Wine label essentials: What they tell you and how to read them

#1: Varietal (grape variety) and appellation: “The grape variety tells you the typical aroma, the body, the palate and if the bottle is capable of ageing,” explains bettertastingwine.com. This will help tell you if the wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz and should give you an indication of what types of flavours you can expect from it.

Appellation, on the other hand, will tell you the wine’s place of origin. And, as you know, origin of the grapes can make a BIG difference to the way wines taste.

“Generally speaking: The more specific the wine label is in telling you where the grapes come from, the better chance you have of picking up a good wine,” advises accidentalhedonist.com.

#2: Producer: Many of us recognise the names of a variety of local vineyards and that’s what producers are hoping for. It also makes your job easier because if you like another wine by the same producer, you’ll know what to expect in terms of quality.

#3: Alcohol by Volume (ABV): Alcohol level tells you a lot about a wine. That’s because many higher alcohol wines are made from riper grapes and tend to have more fruit forward flavours and tend to be richer, says winefolly.com. This is important when it comes to pairing wine correctly.

#4: Where it was bottled: If the wine was estate bottled, pay attention. It means the estate had a hand in growing the grapes and this tends to lead to better quality, reveals the Wall Street Journal.

#5: Sulphate content: If the wine contains sulphates, it must say so on the label. After all, suphates are one of the main reasons people are allergic to certain wines.

There you go. By understanding what a wine label is trying to tell you, you’ll feel more at ease when buying an unfamiliar bottle. And don’t forget, to apply these smart wine shopping tips too.



Five secrets to reading a wine label like a pro
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