Tag Archives: alcohol & tobacco tax & trade bureau

How to Read The (American) Wine Label

I love browsing Snooth and quite often find myself sucked into their forum – before you know it, an hour has gone by! 

Anyway, here’s a question that wasn’t from y’all.  A new enthusiast posed this question in the forum. But, I figure if she wonders, probably lots of others do, too, so think of this as “Reading the Wine Label 101”. 

Question: I just purchased a bottle of Campus Oaks – Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi 2007. Now what that all means…not sure yet; but that is something that I would like to learn. What certain wines mean and what the 2007 stands for? The year that it was bottled, picked off the vine or what!?!?

Now, reading an American wine label is a cake walk compared to most any European label, so let’s start with that. And, fortunately, most new-world wine labels have similar requirements behind them. Grab yourself a bottle and take a look. I just took a bottle of Ideology Cabernet Sauvignon from my “cellar”.

The brand name is usually the biggest thing on the label 😉

Vintage date Next it says 2006: The vintage date is the harvest date. It’s kind of like putting up jam. The weather during the growing season has a huge impact on wine flavors (think of the difference between unripe fruit, perfectly ripe fruit and over-ripe fruit. It’s a simplification, but you get the idea). Continue reading

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