Wine label: What’s in?

Wine label: What’s in?

August 11, 2021 Off By Rob Prosser

We all love a delicious wine and often a wine that is liked once is bought over and over again. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but we notice that many wine lovers would like to drink something different, but don’t actually know what to look out for in a store when they are standing in front of an overflowing wall with wines. Which wine to choose? The wine label is the source of information. It already says a lot about the wine in question. But how can we best read the wine label and what exactly does it tell us?

Wine labels have been around for a very long time and the oldest wine label that has been recovered is a Babylonian cylindrical seal and is 6000 years old. This label was used to label an amphora. But until about the 20th century, wine was transported in barrels and there was little need for labeling because the wine was poured straight from the barrel into a carafe or glass.

Besides being an important sales tool for the wine producer, a wine label is an important form of information for the wine drinker. There are so many wines and it is often thought that we do not know what kind of wine we are getting because we cannot smell or taste the wine. That is why the orientation for wine always starts with the label. Wine distinguishes itself in many ways; In addition to origin, importer, trader, taste, content, alcohol percentage, there are various elements that make wine what it is.

Until the 20th century, wine labels were not bound by any specific regulations. In the first half of the 20th century, the wine regions were officially described on the labels in several wine regions. 

Mandatory indications that may be on the back label

  • The lot or lot number
  • Contains sulphites plus possibly an allergy logo
  • Name of importer

Seven Mandatory Mentions

There are a number of elements that are mandatory on the label. After all, consumers have a right to know what they are drinking. As long as the following seven indications are on the label,

  1. Wine category This shows in which quality category the wine falls
  2. Designation of origin
    The place, region or country where the wine comes from
  3. Name and address of the bottler
  4. Alcohol content in percentages
    The percentage may differ from the actual content by a maximum of 0.5%
  5. Nominal volume
    The amount of wine in the bottle (usually expressed in cl or ml)
  6. Batch number of the bottling
    This is of no importance to the consumer. but under product liability legislation the wine must be traceable.
  7. Allergen statement
    If extra sulphite has been added to the wine, this must be stated on the label

Freely addable indications on a wine label

All those rules put together (and there are quite a few) can seem a bit confusing. My advice: keep it simple. Start with the basics: choose the type of wine you are looking for and from there continue with the choice of grape variety and wine country. In this way, you filter further and further to your final wine choice and you can look at the different wineries and wine regions in order to arrive at your final wine choice.

Store wine labels

To remember all those delicious wines is quite a task. Many wine lovers have one way or another to do this. One makes notes in a booklet, the other removes the labels from the bottle to keep. I take a picture of the bottle myself, an everlasting memory of a nice glass of wine!

It you determine the design?

With regard to the literary part of the label, a winegrower must therefore adhere to certain rules. But when it comes to the design of the label, he is hardly or no rules imposed. The producer is completely free to decide whether or not to put an image on the label and in which style he designs the label (or has it designed). He can make it as crazy as he wants.

What is the best thing to put on the label as a winegrower? Many wineries looking to target a younger generation are more likely to opt for a modern and hip design than a classic label. Nevertheless, recent research has shown that eighty percent of consumers who sometimes buy wine based on the label prefer a classic label with, for example, a château on it, over a label with trendy symbols, logos, or drawings. The majority of these are younger. She thinks that a classic label is linked to high quality and the youth is looking for that kind of foothold when it comes to wine.

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