Wine bottle labeling is both a science and an art.
The labels for bottles of wines and other spirits often contain important information about the type and origin of the wine and are often scrutinized by the most consummate buyers. They provide the vintage dates that are crucial to determining the taste and quality of the wine.
On the other hand, they are also art pieces that prompt for casual or learned conversation as it tells the story of the wine. Some wineries use images from famous artists such Chagall and Picasso. Others use more contemporary artworks so as not intimidate the non-connoisseurs. This is because younger consumers perceive some labels to be stuffy and want their wine to reflect its age.
Other wineries offer customized labels that let consumers memorialize an event. Wines today are being used widely as a gift or a corporate giveaway.
Various labels contain standard information and other facts. Below are some of the basics, arranged according to the order they should be read.
1. The most prominent, as a manner of course, is the brand name, which identifies the product, origin, and age.
2. The vintage date is the harvest year. What it means is that 85 percent or more of the wine was produced from the grapes grown in the given year.
3. Consequently, the appellation of origin is given if the vintage date is provided. This is simply the place in which the dominant grapes were grown. It indicates the viticultural area, or the grape-growing region with soil, climate, history, and geographic features.
4. Optional in many cases, the variety or varietal designation is the name of the dominant grape used in the wine. Some examples are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Multiple claims are also common and they list down the varieties in descending order. Other designations are used to identify the wine including Burgundy, Chablis, or Chianti.
5. The designation is often worded along with the country of origin. The designation is mandatory in some countries and identifies the nature of the product, e.g., Wine of France. The country of origin is also obligatory on all imported wines.
6. The name or trade name and address of the bottler or importer also appear on the label. It is mandatory.
7. The alcohol content is often expressed in percent by volume. The wording is not defined in most cases; tolerances vary in most products.
8. Information on allergens must be provided, especially for bottles that contain 10 percent or more sulphite concentration.
9. A government or health warning statement often appears on the label. The health advisory is required on all beverages that contain 5 percent or more alcohol per volume. The government warning, usually in bold and capital letters, is a statement from the food and pharmaceutical agency or from the surgeon general in some countries.
10. The net content of the wine is the amount of product in the container. It can be found in the front or the back of the labels for bottles.
Wine bottle labeling is an exact endeavor that is often highlighted by the creative spirit of the winemakers and bottlers. Oftentimes, it also mirrors the character of the connoisseur or the casual consumer.