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Understand Wine Labels with LabelsPlus

Labels on wine bottles are the most essential marketing tool for winemakers. But thanks to the variety of information on display, and the various terminologies used, a walk down the wine aisle of the supermarket can leave a shopper in a spin.


LabelsPlus help to find the right vintage for you; and ensure that there arenít any unwanted surprises once you pop the cork.

Thankfully help is at hand. The LabelsPlus team eat, sleep and breathe labels, but we also enjoy the odd drop of wine.

Knowing a little about the sort of wine that youíre looking for, and the ways that those winemakers communicate with their customers, will help you to find the right vintage for you; and ensure that there arenít any unwanted surprises once you pop the cork.

There are two pieces of information which are key to the contents of the bottle: the region in which the wine was created, or the grapes used to make it.

As a rule of thumb, most European wines tend to focus on the region from which the wine hails, such as Burgundy or Bordeaux. Youíre unlikely to find out from the label that a Chablis or a White Burgundy is made from Chardonnay grapes; or that a Rioja is made from full-bodied Tempranillo grapes. Bordeaux is actually made using a blend of up to five varietals.

If the wine was produced in the US, youíre likely to find the one youíre looking for by the grape. According to the US Department of Treasury Regulations, a vineyard can label its wine by a varietal of grape so long as that grape make up at least 75% of that vintage. Of course, this doesnít help us out at all with the other 25%, but it does give us an idea.

When it comes to alcohol content, an idea is the best we can hope for from the wine label. Thatís because the actual alcohol level can vary within agreed legal limits. So a bottle label which displays an alcohol content of 13% could actually contain a wine less than 12% proof, while a label reading 14% could contain wine as strong as 15%.

This might not seem like the biggest difference, but to the educated wine drinker this is significant, because the alcohol content can imply the nature of the process used to make that wine. This could influence that drinker in choosing one bottle of wine over another.

More information is sometimes available on the back label, providing shoppers with an insight into the recipe, the location and the approach to wine making used to create each concoction. Often, however, this space is reserved for whimsical marketing spiel which offers little information on the actual wine contained within.

The appearance of labels and the imagery displayed can allude to the quality of the wine, but is often more informed by marketing ambition than scientific research. Some bottle labels choose to create a homage to the traditions of wine making, others aim for contemporary sheen or cutting edge. At this point, itís up to personal preference as to which will win out.

But a great starting point is learning a little more about the kinds of grapes used and the regions all over the world which are held in esteem for their winemaking.
What do you look for in a bottle of wine? Are you looking for a particular ingredient, are you won over by a pretty picture, or is it truly all about the percentage?
Let us know in the comments.

For more information call the friendly and helpful LabelsPlus team today on 01663 736 250 or pay a visit to

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