On the bottle part 2

On the bottle part 2

15th Mar 2010

What exactly is on that wine label?

In addition to a wines name, the most important piece of information on a label is who produced the wine. Most wines can be thought of as brands, in that their producer's names are associated with recognised quality and style. Cloudy Bay for example in New Zealand is world renowned for producing very pungent, powerful wine from the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety.

A wine maker's reputation is a good clue as to the quality of the wine you are buying.  Indeed -the individual brand name is probably the most important piece of information on a wine label. Amongst the host of Chardonnays, Cabernets, Merlot's and so on, what counts is whose version it is.


Wine makers will often use a variety of special quality indications such as 'Reserve', 'Special Selection' or separate in-house brand names. In the Burgundy region of France for example, the 'best' wines are given the designation Grand Cru, meaning the grapes come from special vineyard sites in the region. This is regulated by law, although fraud does happen! Often giving your wine a special name, like reserve, is not regulated by law and is only a guide, not a guarantee of quality.


 Label information


Specific labeling laws do differ from country to country. But in most counties the following pieces of information are mandatory:


  • Country of origin;
  • Producers name;
  • A measure of the liquid content, usually 75cl/750ml;
  • The alcohol level, usually expressed as % by volume.


Wine labels don't have to, but often also indicate:


  • The grape variety, or blend of varieties;
  • The special region of origin;
  • A national or regional quality designation, for example Grand Cru in Burgundy;
  • Vintage date - the year in which the wine was made.

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