On the bottle part 1

On the bottle part 1

15th Mar 2010

'I love Chablis but I hate Chardonnay': thewineremedy team takes a look at the wine label.

Ideally, we could sample every bottle before we purchase. Failing that, it would be nice if the label gave a clear indication of what the wines tastes like, as it is the main basis on which we choose wine after all. 


If only it were that easy! There is little consistency in the way in which wines are named across the world. A lot of the community members have said that they find wine labels confusing - here is a brief guide to label information, and what it does, or does not tell us.



Every bottle of wine must have a label, and that label must provide certain information about the wine. Every wine is given a name which is usually in the centre of the label. Essentially, wines are named in two ways: either after the region from which they come, or after the grape varieties from which they were made.


So Chablis is a wine region in Northern France, the wine is made from the Chardonnay grape variety. It is easy to confuse regions with grape varieties on labels as it is by no means obvious whether the name is that of a grape or region: Muscadet is a grape and a region in France!


Generally speaking, most European wines are named geographically - Chablis, Pomerol, Rioja - because historically their style was associated with the unique properties of the region, rather than the grape variety. Most so-called 'New World' wines, wines from countries like New Zealand and Australia, are named after their grape variety.  So their wines will be labeled Shiraz, Chardonnay etc.


It used to be the case that the name of a wine, with few exceptions, was its place of origin. However, in the last 30 years or so there has been a great shift of emphasis from place to grape variety on wine labels. No single factor has made wine more understandable to consumers and can only be seen as a good thing for us wine aficionados out there.

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