Reading wine labels is the topic for this installment of our wine 101 guide…

If you buy wine, knowing how to read a wine label is a useful skill to have. Finding out what (and what not) to look for will help you buy wines that meet your perfectly your preferences. So, lets look at each aspect of a wine label individually.

Firstly, the vintage; most bottles of wines stocked in stores are meant to be drunk immediately so look for ones that were produced in recent years. This particularly applies if youre looking for a fresh, lively, fruity wine at a decent price . Of course, there are some vintages of certain wines that are well known, but these tend to be pricey; research these wines online or in specialty magazines to learn about them before you buy.

Secondly, the geography; there are lots of famous regions and vineyards around the world (too many to list here) so this can be a bit of a lottery and unless you do prior research. You probably wont know the pros and cons of each wine region, but as a general rule, bottles that list specific vineyards or towns rather than entire countries or regions are better. The reasoning being that lesser wine producers will often try to cash in on the reputation of famous wine producing regions, even though their grapes were grown in agriculturally poor areas of that region.

Thirdly, the alcohol content; it’s recommended that you look for one at around 14% or less. Although you might think that buying a high alcohol wine represents better value for money, this isn’t true if you want to enjoy the product as a higher alcohol contents usually mean that the wine is unbalanced.

Finally, you should look for small details that indicate high quality: the date the grapes were picked, whether the wine was made at the vineyard (estate bottled), and vineyard contact information. Details such as these add to a wines authenticity and indicate that the wine producer cares about and has faith in their product.

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