How To Understand Wine Labels

There is a lot of valuable information on wine labels but the majority of wine drinkers have no idea what the information they are seeing means or even what they are looking at. Unfortunately, pride generally prevents them from asking for help in explaining what the label means and they end up purchasing based merely upon the description or whether they are drawn to the label. Here are some tips for reading wine labels that you can consider the next time you are purchasing a bottle.

    • Vintage - The first thing you should look for is the vintage, usually located on the front of the label. Most wines in liquor stores or grocery stores are fairly new and are released within three years of being picked. Regardless of whether you know what year is best for that particular bottle, the vintage will give you a general idea of if the wine is still good to drink. You can get away with an older bottle for the more full-bodied red wines like cabernet and zinfandel, but most whites are meant to be consumed soon after being released.
    • Region - The more specific a region is on the bottle, the easier it will be for you to know the characteristics of the wine that comes from that region. For example, if a wine says it comes from Caneros you will understand a lot more about the flavors of the wine than if it just says it comes from California, or even Napa Valley. If you enjoy the flavors of a bottle of wine that comes from a particular region, you will be more inclined to like any wine from that region, regardless of the maker.
    • Alcohol Content - Bigger wines will have higher alcohol content.
    • Tasting Notes - Many times, wine bottles will have tasting notes describing the flavors, characteristics and foods that best accompany the bottle.

Wine labels are full of information and the more you are able to understand, the more confident you will feel about your selection. In no time, you should be able to walk into a store and understand whether you will enjoy the bottle simply based on the information on the labels.

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