Often, wine novices are told to select a wine based on the appeal of the design of a wine’s label. But, beyond font, color, and the brand (producer), what particular language should consumers look for when selecting a bottle?

Vintage Date: A vintage date on the label means 95% of the wine is made from grapes grown in that year.

Alcohol Content: Alcohol content is the percentage of alcohol by volume. By law, wines must have a minimum of 7% and a maximum of 14% alcohol. Ports must be between 18 to 20% alcohol and Sherries must be between 17 to 20% alcohol.

Reserve: “Reserve” has no legal meaning, so wineries may use this term to indicate a special bottling or limited production.

Champagne: Sparkling wines are produced worldwide, but laws usually reserve the term “Champagne” exclusively for sparkling wines from the Champagne region in France. The United States bans the use of the word “Champagne” from all new wines produced in the United States.

Estate Bottled or Grown, Produced, and Bottled By: This means that 100% of the wine came from grapes grown on land controlled by that winery. In one operation, the winery crushes and ferments the grapes, finishes, ages, processes, and bottles the wine.

Made and Bottled By: This means that a minimum of 10% of the wine in the bottle was fermented at the winery.


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