What’s in a Wine Label?


In their most basic classifications wine labels fall into two categories; old world and new world or better still geographic and varietal.

The old world or geographic labels come from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and others. Hundreds of years of tradition have seen European winemakers settle on a system of regions or appellations. Some regions have been planted, torn up and replanted many times on the theory that the correct grape in the correct area will give the best wine. The French wine label has become the defacto standard for European labels and includes;

· The regional grading such as grand or premier

· The domain or chateau name which is also the name of the product and the producer

· The wine region and/or the specific area where the grapes are grown

· The appellation name as the name of the Appellation d’Origine Controlee wine growing region to which the wine is entitled according to how it’s produced.

Varietal or new world wine labels show the name of the vineyard, vintage, grape variety and usually area. The European appellation implies the grape variety so listing both appellation and grape variety would seem redundant on a European label. New world wineries, such as Australia, NZ, the US, Canada and South America are still working out what varieties work in what areas. We don’t have the hundreds of years of tradition so more information is required on the label. We are starting to see this ‘sorting out’ of varieties in Australia. Unfortunately some of it has been marketing driven. But thankfully most is for sound viticultural reasons. People having problems ripening their Cabernet in cooler climates are pulling them out & replanting earlier ripening varieties.

Only seven things are required by law to appear on a wine label in Australia;

1. The name and address of the winery

2. Varietal name

3. The alcohol content by volume

4. Number of standard drinks

5. The amount of wine in the bottle

6. What preservatives are used

7. The vintage which is the year of harvest

The oldest recorded wine labels are from around 2,700 BC. Clay wine jars from the tombs of the pharaohs were sealed with a round pottery lid and clay that had been stamped with the name of the pharaoh.


Source by Peter Svans