What Does Reserve on the Wine Label Mean?


When you see reserve printed on a wine label, you know that you are looking at a bottle of the best of the best. The most common place you will see a bottle of reserve, is in the red wine category. Most white wines do not benefit from aging as red wines do, and that is why you will see the reserve designation les on white wines then you will on red.

So what does it take to have reserve printed on the label of a bottle of wine? For the most part, this is actually a legal designation, and there are certain guidelines that a winemaker must follow to be able to print reserve on his or her label. Just as there are legal guidelines that must be met in order to print the varietal on the wine label, the vintage, or the area where the grapes were grown, there are also guidelines that need to be met before reserve goes on the label.

In order for reserve to go on the label the wine inside the bottle must be in some way special. It could be that the Vineyard has a area that produces finer grapes than the rest of the vineyard for whatever reason. Perhaps the drainage is better, or perhaps they get afternoon sun instead of morning sun. If the grapes used in making the wine are the best of the best then reserve can go on the label.

Another reason that reserve could go on the label, is because the Vineyard had an exceptional growing year. If the winemaker believes that the vintage is going to be exceptional,he or she can set that wine aside as a reserve. It could be that when the winemaker brought the crop in, he hand-picked the finest of the grapes and set them aside for his reserve wine. Or perhaps the winemaker will age his reserve wine for a longer period of time than his normal wine. Or perhaps he ages it longer in the oak.

So what does the label designation mean for you? For you it means that you will have a higher quality of wine. By choosing a higher quality of grape, or by choosing a longer aging time, a winemaker creates an extra special bottling. If the winemaker know his business, that equates into a finer tasting bottle of wine.

If you are thinking of buying a bottle of reserve wine, I would suggest that you buy a brand and vintage that you are already happy with. If you have a favorite red wine, then it would be logical to assume that if you bought the reserve bottle from the same winemaker, that you would be exceptionally happy with it. If you do not already have a favorite, or if you just want to try something new, head to a tasting room. Not all tasting rooms will have tastings of reserves, but they may have tasting of a regular wine that they have reserve bottles of.


Source by Lori Beck