Labels? We love em!

– A Wine Bluffer guide

The front label of a wine bottle usually has quite a bit of information on it. In choosing wine you need to look for clues.

Firstly, you may choose by country, especially when you are confronted with a long aisle in a supermarket.* Then perhaps by region, especially if you are looking for a particular style. Then you start to get into the label.

Wine label naming takes three approaches. The main feature is either to name the grape variety, the region or the name of the wine. The latter is used especially on single varietal wines (wines made specifically from a single wine grape variety). This is to differentiate a producer from others with similar offerings. Or a made-up name may be used when there is a blend of varieties that is unique to a producer.

When grape variety features most strongly it can be most useful, and saves you hunting all over the bottle to find out. This is a method favoured by wine importers to describe their wines, their name and brand already having a trusted following. Wines may also have names that appear in certain regions, a Chianti for instance is a mainly Sangiovese blend and only comes from Tuscany in Italy. Whereas a Pouilly-Fume can only be found in the upper reaches of the Loire valley and is made up of 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Equally, in the neighbouring district of the Maconnais at the top of the Burgundy region – Pouilly-Fuisse – is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. So it is complicated, but that’s all part of the fun, no?

And finally wines may be labelled by region, which means that you have to know your Bordeaux from your Burgundy. Regions are famous for certain styles of wines and the grape varieties that are typically found growing in them. This means that you have to learn about regions, especially important in the old world, and the sub-domaines that make them up.

* Wine Bluffer says: Interestingly OAK N4 rack their bottles by body, light to full bodied, left to right. And by price, higher on the top shelf to lower on the bottom shelf. This is an innovation which can take you to places you’d never have tried before. Individual tags by the bottles show the countries of origin.

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