When deciding which wine to buy (or open!), have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of information on the labels? One thing is if you like the label or not, but understanding what all those terms and numbers mean can be a daunting task. But fear not, this blog post will guide you through decoding wine labels like a pro.

What do the terms on a wine label mean?

Wine labels contain a wealth of information, from the grape variety to the region where the wine was produced. Terms like "vintage," "varietal," and "ABV" may seem confusing at first, but they all play a crucial role in understanding the wine you're about to enjoy.

All bottles will need, as a minimum, to carry the winery name, appellation name and status, volume/content and also "bottled/produced by:" the producer name/location. 

Note; Depending on country and appellation some of all this info needs to be on the front label OR can be put on the back label.  

(Many bottles today also carry a note about health recommendations (that boring and all too low number of glasses they only want you to drink!) and that pregnant women should not drink at all... )

How to decipher the region and appellation?

The region and appellation on a wine label can tell you a lot about the wine's origin and quality. For example, a label that reads "Vino de la Tierra de Mallorca" like ours indicates that the wine was produced following the rules of this particular appellation in Mallorca. Each country/region/appellation has their own set of rules both when it comes to which grapes you may use and also qualitative standards like maximum yields, and it's a bit of tricky task learning to understand them all as they are highly different!

Just to give you an example; then here in Spain you'll often see the terms; Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva on the labels. These however are really only valuable when it comes to wines from the Rioja region! 


Understanding the vintage and grape variety

The vintage year on a wine label refers to the year the grapes were harvested. This can give you an idea of the wine's age and potential flavour profile. Additionally, you will sometime see the grape variety/ies listed on the label, which gives you further info about the style and taste of the wine.

Decoding the alcohol by volume (ABV) and tasting notes

The ABV percentage on a wine label indicates the alcohol content of the wine. This can give you an idea of how strong the wine is and what to expect in terms of flavour intensity. Tasting notes, if applicable, on the label provide a description of the wine's aroma, taste, and overall characteristics, but these are sometimes VERY generic. E.g. "this red wines goes well with red meats and cheeses"..  You know what I mean... not very helpful! That's why we at Binivista likes to provide you with much more info on both food matching and how to best enjoy in general. This information can be seen from the back label's QR code.

The rest... 

Besides this, pretty boring and often legally necessary information you will often see a wide array of other stuff on there. Depending on country, region and appellation the producer have a smaller or larger degree of artistic freedom to add any further info he/she likes. 

Other expressions you will often see: 

"Organic": a label will carry the official seal of organisation in charge if certified organic. In Europe its marked with a green leaf, as you will see on our bottles:

ORGANIC LOGO AND LABELLING FACTS AND REGULATIONS - Organicity an organic  food project 

"Vegan" : if no animal products are used in the vinification. In most cases this would only bee egg-whites for the fining though. Our wines also carry this symbol.

"Sulfites" (and other additives): bottles need to carry the mention "contains sulfites" and also now since December 2023 a full list of additives. (these can be shown on a list linked via a QR code instead of directly on the label). You will be surprised just how many things it's actually allowed to add to your wine! Even organic like ours. We try to add as little as at all possible, and when needed, only the highest quality of only as natural products as possible. 

"Vielles Vignes": bascially "old vines/vineyards" in French, but be aware that there are no legal rules that applies to this and any producer can write this on their labels without anyone checking if those grapes really come from an older vineyard or not!

"Reserve": again; something any producer can use freely, but they usually would only add this word to more "special" wines in their range. 

Next time you pick up a bottle of wine, take a closer look at the label and use this guide to decode all the information it contains. Understanding wine labels can enhance your wine-drinking experience and help you make more informed choices when selecting a bottle to enjoy.