If you are reading this, then you are probably like most people who pick up a wine list at dinner and panic! But let me assure you, it won’t take much effort and soon you can be talking like a true wine connoisseur. The very next time you want to order wine at a restaurant, or picking out a wine at the local haberdashery for enjoying at your own home, you’ll be able to do so with confidence.
We understand there is a lot of difficult terminology which we hope to explain in a way that everyone can comprehend easily. And the best part of the process? Well, that will of course be discovering new fruits of the vine too!
Without further ado, lets pour out some information about our favorite libation….
Reading the Wine Label
Wine is an international drink that has its own language. Even reading a wine label can be intimidating with the host of different languages, dates, and grape varieties. Keep in mind that wine is made in almost every country of the world. There are two major groups of wine makers that have evolved throughout the world. The first is called “Old World” which includes Europe and parts of the Mediterranean. These countries have been making wine for thousands of years and have a deep history. The second group is called “New World” which includes new players in the wine game such as the United States, Australia, and Chile.
The Old World wines are generally more difficult to read due to the wines being labeled by regions as opposed to the grapes used. To be an expert in Old World wines you are required to have a strong understanding of the different wine regions in each country. An example wine label might be the following “Chateau Moulin de Grenet 2009 Lussac St. Emilion” which would require the reader to understand that “Saint Emilion” is known in that region for Merlot. As wine is now a global drink the Old World wines will need to change their labeling system to attract more drinkers on a global scale.
New World Wines utilize the grape variety to label their wine which translates better on a global scale. Similar to the example given above for Old World wine, a typical New World wine label would include the following: “Cakebreak 2006 Merlot, Napa Valley.” The reader can easily identify that this wine is a Merlot made in 2006 in Napa Valley.
Popular Regions and Grape Varieties
In order to help give you the basics of the major grapes grown in particular regions check out the table below:
|France||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Viognier, Chardonnay|
|Italy||Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Moscato, Pinot Grigio|
|United States||Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel|
|Chile||Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc|
|Germany||Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner|
|Spain||Tempranillo, Albarino, Garnacha, Palomino|
|New Zealand||Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir|
|South Africa||Pinotage, Chenin Blanc|
|Greece||Assyrtiko, Athiri, Aidani, Lagorthi, Malagousia, Moschofilero, Robola, Roditis, Savatiano, Tsaoussi, White Muscat, Agiorghitiko, Xinomavro, Mandelaria, Mavrodaphne|
|Portugal||Alvarinho, Antao Vaz, Fernao Pires, Siria, Viosinho, Alfrocheiro, Aragonez, Tinto Cao, Trincadeira, and Vinhao|
Wine Label Contents
When you pick up a bottle of wine the most important information to understand are the Varietal items such as Region, Producer, Alcohol Percentage, and Vintage. Some other less common items are the Vineyard, Estate, Reserve, Tasting Notes, History, and the Quality Levels. If you are interested building your wine knowledge regarding the different Old World and New World regions I would highly recommend you pick up “World Atlas of Wine” which is the most in-depth look into all the different wine regions from around the world. It is a great reference book that no wine connoisseur should be without!
I hope you enjoyed these wine tips! If you would like to find out more tips and find great deals on wine from across the world then please check out www.HaveFineWine.com!
About the author: Bryan Kesler is a CPA who worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers for several years. As an auditor Bryan travelled the world trying the finest wines and has been a wine enthusiast ever since. You can join his wine community at Have Fine Wine.
Editor’s note: A version of this article was originally published here.