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How to Read a Wine Label

Wine is most often labeled with the producer name and at least one additional naming convention:

  • the name of the individual grape variety
  • the name of the region where the wine was produced
  • a proprietary name a producer has given to a particular wine
  • the year produced

Labeled by Name

Generally, wines that are labeled by a proprietary name are made from a blend of grapes unique to that vintner. Sometimes, vintners use proprietary names for different wines made from a single varietal.

Labeled by Variety

Wines are often labeled by variety. Each country has a minimum percentage of each grape required for a label to carry that name. If a wine has less than the requirement, the wine label may list the percentage of each grape the wine contains.

Labeled by Year

The year a wine is produced from a single vineyard can have major impact on the fruit character and taste of the wine. This is why the year is almost always listed clearly on every wine bottle.

Labeled by Region

It's common for producers in countries such as France, Italy, Spain and Portugal to label their wines by region — especially when it is a renowned region, like Bordeaux.