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GEN 7 Wines - Brookside Winery

Gen7 Wines
 
September 2, 2020 | Gen7 Wines

How to Read a Wine Label Like a Pro

Did you know that you can actually learn what a wine might taste like by reading the label, or, at the very least, it can help you get a better picture of exactly what you are buying? There are 2 main styles of wine labels commonly found in stores: a wine identified by its brand name or a wine designated by its appellation credentials.

Appellation credentials are awarded to regional producers following strict rules governing which grapes are allowed, crop yield, alcohol percentage, and quality level. The specific requirements for regions are determined by the country of origin.

Here's how to read a wine label like a pro.

1. Climate. Climate determines the ripeness of the fruit–the more sugar ripeness in the fruit, the more potential richness in flavor and more potential alcohol. Wines from cool climates generally have tarter and leaner characteristics and lower alcohol, wheres wines from warm to hot wine regions will have riper fruit flavors, elevated alcohol, and usually less tartness (depending on the grape variety)...at least this is a good rule of thumb.

2. Alcohol. The alcohol level will tell you how potent the wine is, of course, but will also give an indication of the body and potential sweetness. Wines that are greater than 14% alcohol by volume (ABV) are considered full-bodied and can be quite rich and intense. Wines with less than 12% ABV are lighter in body. If the ABV is below 10 or 11 %, there is a good chance the wine may have residual sugar. Residual Sugar (or RS) is from natural grape sugars leftover in a wine after the alcoholic fermentation finishes. It's measured in grams per liter. So for example, a wine with 10 grams per liter of residual sugar has 1% sweetness or a total of ~1.8 carbohydrates per serving (5 ounces / 150 ml).

3. Variety or Appellation. The variety refers to what grape or grapes are used in making the wine. Many blends will not reveal the constituent grapes nor the percentage that each makes of the whole. If there is no varietal given, look for the Appellation, which can give you clues to what varietals were used based on the rules governing that region. There are 15 nations with officially regulated appellations, though the strictness of the rules and what matters varies wildly among them. This is most helpful when you already know which varietals you prefer.

4. Vintage or Non-Vintage (NV). The year that the grapes were harvested is the vintage. The vintage tells a lot about a wine if you are familiar with vintage variations. As a general rule, multi-vintage wines or “NV” wines are lower value wines, because they have the ease of pulling wine from multiple vintages to control the flavor. 


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