Discovering wine through its label: 6 steps for expert reading

Wine

28/08/2023

The exciting culture of wine invites us to immerse ourselves in its aromas, flavors and origins, but to fully enjoy this experience, it is essential to know how to interpret the labels on the bottles.

We usually choose a wine by recommendation because the winery rings a bell, because we have previously tasted it in a restaurant or because the name has caught our attention. Rarely do we make this decision after analyzing and understanding the information we find on what, for many, is a wine's identity card.

Wine labels can often seem confusing to beginners, with technical information and oenological terms that can be intimidating. However, once we understand how to read them, they become fascinating windows into the world of wine.

In this article, we will guide you through six simple steps to unravel the secrets of a wine label and learn what the terms on them mean.

6 key aspects to take into account on the wine label before buying a wine

In this article, we will try to explain how to read the label of a wine, in this case Spanish. The goal? So that the next time you have to choose a wine you can do it conscientiously and thus know all its details and characteristics. Let's go there!

1. Brand

The brand is the name of the wine or the winery that produces it. Some wineries are well known and have an established reputation, while others may be small and emerging.

Through the brand, you can infer the quality, style and philosophy of the producer. The brand is a fundamental part of the wine that expresses in a single or several words the essence and what the product wants to convey.

2. Designation of Origin (D.O.)

The appellation of origin informs us of the geographical origin of the wine and/or the council that regulates it. In the case of Spain, all wineries must indicate whether their wines belong to an appellation of origin, or, on the contrary, are not endorsed by any regulation.

In Catalonia, there is a special mention that guarantees the exceptionality of certain wines: Vinos de Finca Calificada. These wines are the result of unique vineyards, with specific soils and favorable microclimates that allow maximum expression of the wine. Being recognized as a Qualified Single Vineyard Wine is the highest recognition a wine can obtain in Catalonia.

3. Alcohol content (alcohol by volume)

The alcohol content of wine is an important and legally required information shown on the label. It is expressed as a percentage and may vary according to the style of wine and the region of production. It may give some clue as to the body of the wine.

4. Year of harvest or vintage

El año de cosecha o añada se refiere al año en que se cosecharon las uvas utilizadas en el vino. La añada puede afectar significativamente el sabor y la calidad del vino, ya que las condiciones climáticas varían de un año a otro. Investiga las condiciones climáticas del año mencionado para tener una mejor comprensión de cómo podría influir en el vino.

En el caso de los vinos de origen español, este dato vendrá muchas veces acompañado del tiempo de envejecimiento del vino en barrica y en botella. Así, según el tiempo total que haya reposado el vino en barrica y en botella, podremos diferenciar entre vino Joven, Crianza, Reserva y Gran Reserva.

5. Sulfites

It is a natural preservative produced during the fermentation process and protects the wine from biological alterations such as, among other things, oxidation, so that they manage to maintain their qualities.

This ingredient should appear on all labels, as some people have allergies to this preservative.

6. The Back Label

Spend some time reading it, so you will identify ingredients that you like above others and you will know something more about that great wine you have in your hands.

Stamps, certifications, grape variety, details about the history and/or description of the wine, pairings and elaboration method, all this information can be found on the back label. It is the label located on the back of the wine.

In addition, as of December 8, 2023, a new European regulation comes into force that establishes that all beverages produced after that date must carry in their labeling information on the energy value, nutritional table, allergens and list of ingredients of the product. In most cases, this information can be found by means of a digital label, with the insertion of a QR printed on the label.

Categorías: Wine