Choosing wine is not an easy task, especially for those, who know little about wine bottle labels and the information they contain. Some wineries even make use of this illiteracy and produce bright, colored labels, which are sure to catch the consumers' attention. Thus, it is very useful to learn how to read labels properly and avoid a fraud. They will help you define the quality of the product and decide whether it will satisfy your palate. So far as wine bottle tags are concerned, they are intended to primarily make it simple to find a particular wine on the rack.
The requirements of labeling can vary in different countries. Still, there are some basic points that are usually covered on labels:
· a brand name;
· a class, type or designation;
· a name and address of the bottler;
· alcohol content;
· a quantity of contents;
· net contents;
· a vintage dating;
· a declaration of sulfites;
· a government health warning.
The brand name is a name under which the product is sold. Actually, it gives little information about the taste properties of the wine unless you have already tried it and can rely on its quality.
Wines are distributed into several classes that have certain flavor characteristics.
Class1 - Table Wine - 7-14% alcohol content;
Class2 - Sparkling Wine - wines, made sparkling by any of the natural methods;
Class3 - Carbonated Grape Wine - wine, which is injected with carbon dioxide;
Class4 - Citrus Wine - wine, made primarily of sound, ripe citrus fruit;
Class5 - Fruit Wine - wine, made primarily of sound, ripe fruits;
Class6 - Wine from Other Agricultural Products;
Class7 - Aperitif Wine - wine, having alcoholic content of no less than fifteen percent by volume, compounded from grape wine, containing added brandy or alcohol, flavored with herbs and other natural aromatic flavoring materials;
Class8 - Imitation Wine - wine, containing synthetic materials;
Class9 - Retsina Wine - grape table wine, fermented or flavored with resin.
Furthermore, there are also some other characteristics in addition to the class on wine bottle labels - an appellation, denoting the place where the grape was grown; a varietal plot, naming the type of the grape used in the production; a generic name, denoting a recognized style of wine; and a proprietary name that is created and owned by the brand. Choosing wine, the appellation and varietal are especially important, as they imply the preeminent things that determine the wine flavor.
The name of the bottler and the place where the wine is bottled is not very much important for the taste. However, if "blended and bottled by" stands on wine bottle labels, it is meant that the bottler is required to have certain abilities to gain a good result from the process of tasting different wines and mixing them.
The alcohol content is usually stated on wines if they contain more than fourteen percent alcohol. Otherwise, "Table wine "or "Light wine" (seven-fourteen percent alcohol) may be stated on the label. This characteristic indicates the level of sweetness and dryness. Wines, which have less than eleven percent alcohol, tend to be sweet, whereas those that have from eleven percent to thirteen point five percent alcohol tend to be dry. Wines with more than thirteen point five percent alcohol can be either sweet or dry due to the residual sugar usage.
Nevertheless, the size of the bottle seems to have no connection with the content properties, it really affects the quality of wine while aging. Wines, champagnes and sparkling wines are said to age better in bigger bottles.
The net volume of contents is often molded into the bottle. It is measured in milliliters and a standard wine bottle is 750 ml (25.6 ounces).
The vintage dating on wine bottle labels designates the year within which the grapes, used in the production of the wine, were harvested and fermented. There is a different minimum to qualify for the vintage dating in various countries. In the USA and Canada the amount of the wine, required to be grown and fermented during the vintage year to use it on the label, is ninety five percent, in most of European countries - eighty five percent, in Chile and South Africa - seventy five. The higher the standard is, the greater are the seasonal differences.
All bottled wines contain sulphur. It is used to give wines a better color and prevent them from spoiling from bacteria and oxidation. In average, the amount of sulfite in bottled wines is twenty-fifty parts per million. The indicator of overdosing is the smell or taste of sulphur (the smell can be like that of a match).
Lastly, in some countries (e.g. in the USA) the warning about the damage to human health that alcohol can cause is stated on labels. Moreover, the above-mentioned information and some other data may be required to be mentioned in particular countries, where the wine is made or sold.