WINE 101: Decoding Wine Labels

You love drinking wine, but sometimes when you’re browsing for a good bottle in a wine store, have you ever felt overwhelmed by the labels, especially when looking for a French wine? Don’t worry, WINE 101 has got you covered;we’ll give you the key to understand French Wine labels.

The Estate:Often referred to by the term “Domaine” or “Chateaux”. French wine will almost all of the time have the Estate name as it’s important for sophisticated consumers to know which estate made the wine. For the connoisseur, the estate is very important as it lets them know who produces the particular bottle of wine. 


The Name:Same thing as the Estate, though for a connoisseur the name of the vine reveals several other important pieces of information. It can indicate a specific location, as in the example with the red wine called “Les Garrigues”, this name indicates that the wine comes from that specific location. 

Variety: (Not present in the example): The variety refers to the specific grape used to make the Wine. “New World” wines often indicate the variety of grape on the front. However, for French wines this is not always the case. North Americans tend to refer to wine by the grape variety rather than the estate or the wine name. In addition, if the label says “blend”, that means more than one variety of grapes were used in the making of that wine. On French wine labels, sometimes the variety is not written because it's "sous entendu"  (implied) into the appellation

Appellation: The Appellation is a set of rules regulating product making in France. Each region has its own appellation and rules. Appellations are a guarantee of quality in the making of a product. The Appellation can indirectly indicate the varietyof grape used. For example, in Burgundy the majority of the production for red wines come from Gamay or Pino Noir, therefore the variety is often not on the label. 

Vintage: The vintage (date on the bottle) indicates the year the grapes were harvested. It is commonly mistaken for the year the wine was bottled, however this is not the case.

Estate Bottled: This indicates where the wine comes from including the grapes that they were grown on a particular winery Estate. Everything is done on one location.


Other information:

Awards: Any awards that a particular bottle of wine has won are typically added to the label.

Alcohol Content: The indicated amount of alcohol content in percent by volume.

Net Content: Indicates the net volume contents of the bottle

This short crash course in French wine labels should help you understand the label of your next bottle of French wine.  Stay tuned for more Wine 101 where we will go into details of grape varieties and region specifics.

We’re having a wine tasting on Wednesday, March 30 at Riverfront. If you are interested, you can sign up through Groupon. Please use the link below. We cannot wait to meet you in person and share the love of wine.