How to read a label?

What are the essential elements to read and know about a wine label? How to distinguish a quality wine and avoid the marketing discourse? Is the mention "Grand Vin" reliable? These questions, everyone poses them once arrived at the wine department, before the multitude of bottles. When one is not passionate, it is sometimes difficult to recognize a good wine with the label ... Between the varietal, the name of the wine and the vintage, it is not always easy to navigate.

Read a wine bottle label

In order to help the consumer to see a little more clearly on wine labels, a regulation has been put in place by the French Administration and the EEC. This provides a number of mandatory information with the provenance, type and characteristics of the wine. Optional mentions may also be included.

Reading a wine label

Not only can choosing a wine be a real challenge; deciphering the label can often be a source of mystery. Being able to understand the plethora of references may make all the difference when buying wine. some information on a label is mandatory (orange color), and some is optional (blue color).

Here is an outline of the two categories of information, to help you sort things out.

Etiquette word anglais

Mandatory information (orange color)

• Reference to the CIVB’s interprofessional approval.

• The name of the AOC, followed by the mention “Appellation d’origine contrôlée”.

• Identity of the bottler, with name, city, country, following the mandatory mention “mis en bouteille par…” (bottled by) or “Embouteilleur…” (bottler). For any bulk purchase that includes the name of the château: the name and address of the merchant (or brand name) and the name of the winemaker.

• TAV — Titre alcoométrique acquis or the percentage of alcohol, or alcoholic strength.

• Origin: indication of the member state of the European Union where the grapes were harvested and vinified, worded as “Produit de France” or “Produit en France”, or any equivalent terms.

• Presence of possibly allergenic substances.

• Health warning message for pregnant women.

• Volume of wine contained in the bottle.

• Batch identifi cation number.

Optional information (blue color)

• The wine estate. Year of harvest and/or name of the grape variety.

• Reference to a classification: cru classé (classifi ed growth), cru bourgeois

• The sugar content (mandatory for sparkling wines)

• Specific production methods — for instance “wine obtained from organically grown grapes”, etc.

• Any metrological checks, meaning that the pre-packager certifies that the capacity of the containers conforms, and that it has been monitored accordingly.