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CONTRIBUTION · 7th October 2010
Robert Broome
The reading of a wine label can mean an enjoyable or a disappointing wine tasting experience. There are certain terms on labels that are common. Things to look for would be; Winery name, Appellation, Vintage, Variety, Estate bottled and the percentage of alcohol. Each country has their own rules wineries must follow on where this information is listed as well as other information listed on the label.

Old World and New World Wine Descriptions

The old world describes countries in Europe France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal. New world describes countries like USA, Canada, Australia as well as anywhere that wine is produced where European peoples brought the vines and the process. Wine labels are first designed to sell a product and second to tell you what is in the bottle.

A label from the old world will have a name and an appellation like Bordeaux Hermitage.

A new world label will have the name of the fruit used for the wine with a region attached like Australian Shiraz.

These are not hard and fast rules but are common practice.

The Terms to Look For In a Wine.

The wine label uses language and terms of its own to describe what you can look forward to in the bottle.

Appellation; Appellations are specific regions with rules concerning alcohol content and the varietal of grape in a wine. When you see this on a bottle it is a hint that the wine will be named by the region not the grape.

Estate Bottled; with this on the label this is a sign of quality controlled wine. With this on the label the grapes grown, the vinting and the bottling, all must be done on the Winery premise.

Reserve;
this is a term with a wide use and not well regulated, as a rule this means a better quality wine.

Unfiltered; this is not a bad thing. You can expect some small pieces of pulp and sediment with this term. Decant these wines to appreciate what a natural process brings to a wine.

Old Vine; this can mean different things depending on the winery. An old well established winery could have vines a hundred years old while a newer winery may have vines forty years old and use the same term. This just indicates these wines come from mature vine stock that put out less fruit and more flavor and aroma.