How to Read a Wine Label
French, Italian, and German labels can be cryptic. Wine expert Rebecca Chapa shows you how to identify the producer, region, and varietal.
Released on 11/11/2008
When you're in your local retailer looking for a wine
to buy, it's often very confusing with all the different
labels, but a lot of those labels can actually give you
a lot of information about what's in the bottle.
The easiest to look at tend to be the labels from
New World regions, such as Napa, South Africa,
Chile, and Australia.
A lot of those places they give you very clear information,
the name of the producer in this case is Ehlers Estate.
We also have the name of the variety or varietal,
which is Cabernet Sauvignon,
and we have the vintage or the year in which the grapes
were harvested, and also the region.
One of the difficult things though is when you venture
outside of the United States or some of the New World areas
and go to places like France where the labeling can be
very very complicated.
In France wines are labeled many different ways.
Sometimes they label them by the vineyard name,
sometimes they label them by the producer name,
and sometimes they make it easy for us and label
by the name of the variety.
In Burgundy the most important thing is the place where
it was grown and not necessarily the producer.
Many different producers could have a piece of one vineyard
and produce a wine like this called Puligny-Montrachet,
that means it comes from the town called Puligny-Montrachet.
You'll notice that the label doesn't even say
what type of grape it is.
In Burgundy predominantly the only white grape that's grown
is Chardonnay, so you have to just know that.
Other regions of France, they label things differently.
In Bordeaux for example they label by the name
of the chateau or the producer.
The chateau could have many different vineyards all over
the area of Margaux which is the sub-region,
so Margaux would be sort of like Napa Valley.
And luckily the people in Alsace have a very different idea.
This area used to be part of Germany and they're
very very clear about how they label their wines.
So for example, this wine is a Riesling, the producer's name
is Hugel and what's nice about this is that if you know
Riesling as a grape you have an idea that you might
really enjoy this wine.
So I hope I made it a little bit easier for you
to understand wine labels.
What's great is you can ask for help at anytime from your
sommelier or your wine merchant but just by getting
to know these wines and getting to know their labels
you can get a lot of information about what's going
to be inside.
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