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How to Read a Wine Label

Aside from its esthetic value, the label of the wine bottle is the tool via which we can uncover the secrets of the bottle before even opening it. By examining what we find on a label, we can become Inspector Poirot of wine!

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Category: European wines are divided into three categories.

  • Wines of Appellation of Origin (AOC, VQPRD in France, DOCG and DOC in Italy, Qualitatswein in Germany, OPAP and OPE in Greece): Wines produced in certain areas in which specific grape varieties have been shown to produce wines of high quality and typicity.  In this category wines are subject to the strictest controls both in the vineyard and in the winery.
  • Regional Wines / Vins de Pays: These wines are produced from designated varieties which flourish in wider geographical zones and are known by the name of the zone.
  • Table Wines: Mass produced wines sold under brand names belong to this category, but they also provide an arena for experimentation.

Geographical Region: Important indication of the quality, but also of the character of a wine

Grape Variety: Usually one, occasionally as many as 13! The determining factor in the flavour and aromatic qualities of a wine.

Producer - Bottler: Always, but always the best guarantee for the quality of a wine. In the case of a “big name” also guarantees the size of the bill!

Vintage: This is always the year in which the wine was produced. Its omission could mean a blend of different vintages.

Volume: Between 50ml to 20ml in the case of some wine-boxes. For mini or maxi enjoyment.

Alcohol Content: Important for the strength of a wine and for the size of the fine from a possible breathalyzer!

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