How to Read a Wine Label
|1.||The name of the A.O.C.(Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) or classification of the wine-growing region, district, or village to which the vineyard has qualified. The more specific the area and smaller the region, usually means the better the standard of wine. Both Italy and Spain have similar classification systems (see below). An Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) system across all 3 countries is slowly coming into effect.|
|2.||The volume or quantity of the wine in the bottle.|
|3.||The percentage of alcohol by volume.|
|4.||The control or lot number of the bottle.|
|5.||“Mis en bouteille au château” bottled by the château/vineyard that grew the grapes, no other. Can also say ‘Mis en bouteille à la Propriété’. A very good gauge of the care that has been taken in production of the wine, as the reputation of the vineyard is dependent of the quality of the wine produced, which is dependent on the care taken in the vineyard itself. If this is missing, it will probably be a lesser wine. This rule applies to any wine, not just French.|
|6.||The names of the proprietors and/or business.|
|7.||The overall region of production, i.e. here it’s ‘Bordeaux’, it could be ‘Burgundy’ or any other large extended wine region.|
|8.||The vintage or year in which the grapes were harvested and the wine first made. 100% of the wine/grape harvest must be from the year on the label. If a wine has no vintage then it’s a sign the grapes used to make the wine could be from anywhere!|
|9.||The name of the wine which could be the name of the vineyard itself. Other French names include “Clos” which means surrounded by walls – a walled vineyard or simply “Domain”. All refer to a specific place/vineyard.|
|10.||The bottle number of the vintage. Only really included on top end wines.|
|11.||This is the classification of the vineyard itself, awarded over the years for the consistency of the wine it has produced – it is not an award for the wine directly, but a guarantee of the standards of the vineyard as it has to adhere to strict rules to qualify.|
|12.||This is an award for the wine actually within the bottle and only that particular year/vintage. Medals are awarded on a yearly basis, Gold, Silver and Bronze for the best wines in their categories either by the regional AOC, or, as in this case, a Gold medal to Château Anthonic by the ‘Agricole de Paris’, the central authority for the AOC system. A medal is a good reliable sign of a great wine.|
|Obviously the above refers to French wines, but Spain and Italy have similar systems in place on their wine labels. In Italy they have the “Denominazione di Origine Controllata” (DOC & DOCG) classification system, in Spain they have the “Denominación de Origen” (DO) system. The Italian ‘DOC’ and Spanish ‘DO’ classifications are roughly equivalent to the French AOC (as said before, an Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) system across all 3 countries is slowly coming into effect). When it comes to higher quality vineyards, the Italians award them ‘DOCG’, whereas the Spanish rank their DO wines Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva, dependent on the amount of ageing used with each wine.
Some other European countries do have wine classification systems as well.
Unfortunately the New World does not have any such classification system, which means you’re a little in the dark as you have little to go on as far as the label is concerned. Some Countries are looking at this including Chile which may be the first to introduce a system similar to the French one.