Wine label
Wine labels are important sources of information for consumers since they tell the type and origin of the wine. The label
A label is a piece of paper, polymer, cloth, metal, or other material affixed to a container or article, on which is printed a legend, information concerning the product, addresses, etc. A label may also be printed directly on the container or article....

 is often the only resource a buyer has for evaluating the wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

 before purchasing it. Certain information is ordinarily included in the wine label, such as the country of origin, quality, type of wine, alcoholic degree, producer, bottler, or importer.

Label design

Some wineries place great importance on the label design while others do not. There are wineries that have not changed their label's design in over 60 years, as in the case of Château Simone, while others hire designers every year to change it. Labels may include images of works by Picasso, Chagall, and other artists, and these may be collector's pieces. The elegance of the label does not determine the wine's quality. Instead, it is the information contained within the label that can provide consumers with such knowledge.

Most New World consumers, and increasingly European consumers, prefer to purchase wine with varietal labels and/or with brand name labels. A recent study of younger wine drinkers in the U.S. found that they perceived labels with châteaux on them to be stuffy or old-fashioned. Producers often attempt to make selecting and purchasing wine easy and non-intimidating by making their labels playful and inviting. The financial success of New World wine attributed to striking label designs has led some European producers to follow suit, as in the case of the redesign of Mouton Cadet
Mouton Cadet
Mouton Cadet is the brand name of a popular range of modestly priced, generic Bordeaux wines, considered Bordeaux' most successful brand. Created by Baron Philippe de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking dynasty, the wine named after his premier cru vineyard Château Mouton Rothschild, Mouton Cadet...


Differences by country

Wine classification systems differ by country. Wines can be classified by region and area only. For example, there are 151 châteaux in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 with "Figeac" and 22 estates in Burgundy with "Corton" on their labels. In Burgundy, there are 110 appellations in an area only one-fifth the size of Bordeaux. Complicating the system is the fact that it is common for villages to append the name of their most famous vineyard to that of the village.

In Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, the authenticity of the wine is guaranteed by a seal on the label or a band over the cork under the capsule. This is promulgated by the growers' association in each area.

German wine labels
German Wine Label
A German wine label can offer a wealth of information for the consumer, despite the reputation they traditionally have of confusing laymen. , MSNBC Life Style editor describes German wine labels as a "thicket of exotic words and abbreviations" that require "the vinous equivalent of Cliff notes to...

 are particularly noted for the detail that they can provide in determining quality and style of the wine.

Almost every New World wine is labelled by grape variety and geographic origin. Semi-generic
Semi-generic is a legal term used in by the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to refer to a specific type of wine designation. The majority of these were originally based on the names of well-known European wine-producing regions...

 designations were once quite common in countries such as Australia and the USA, but the wine authorities in areas such as Champagne have not been afraid to bring lawsuits against the use of their names outside their region, and semi-generic names are falling out of use.

Wines whose label does not indicate the name of the winery or the winemaker are referred to as "cleanskin
Cleanskin (wine)
In Australia, cleanskin wine is a term for wine whose label does not indicate the winery or the winemaker's name. Instead, cleanskin labels usually only show the grape variety and the year of bottling, as well as other information required by Australian law - alcohol content, volume, additives and...

" wine, particularly in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...


Importance of labels in different types of wine

The information contained in labels is important to determine the quality of the wine. For example, great importance needs to be attached to vintage
Vintage, in wine-making, is the process of picking grapes and creating the finished product . A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown and harvested in a single specified year. In certain wines, it can denote quality, as in Port wine, where Port houses make and...

 dates when there are differences in climate. The taste and quality of the wine can change from year to year depending on the climate. Knowing the vintage is specially important when buying fine wines because the quality of the wine can vary from year to year due to climatic differences. The quickest way to determine the quality of the year is to use a wine chart.

Vintage dates may not be important, for example, there are no vintage dates on bottles of sherry
Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the town of Jerez , Spain. In Spanish, it is called vino de Jerez....

On the other hand, wines may or may not have vintages. Champagne is usually a blend from more than one year and only sometimes sold as a vintage wine. Also, Port
Port wine
Port wine is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, and comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties...

 is only sold with a vintage in years of exceptional quality.

Bottler and importer information

A wine label may include the producer, the bottler and the merchant's names. The bottler's name must always be included in the label. The importer's name must be included in the label only for countries outside the Common Market. While it is not necessary for a wine to be bottled at its place of origin, it is obligatory for classed growth claret and vintage port to be bottled in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 and Oporto. Also, bottling of Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

 must be done within the appellation
An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well...

. Thus, it is important to look for terms such as mis en bouteille au château or mis au domaine because they tell you the wine is estate bottled.

Misleading information

Labels may include terms that may be perceived as misleading. The term Blanc de blancs may be included in a label. This term means "white wine made from white grapes". The fact is that white wines are predominantly made from white grapes, with the exception of many sparkling wines, the common use of the red Pinot noir
Pinot Noir
Pinot noir is a black wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot noir grapes...

 in Champagne wines being a typical example.

Although the word château is most associated with Bordeaux
Bordeaux wine
A Bordeaux wine is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. Average vintages produce over 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine, ranging from large quantities of everyday table wine, to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world...

, it does not mean that the wine does come from Bordeaux, and there may not be any kind of building - let alone a château - associated with the vineyard. The name château can even be included in wines from Australia or California. Labels of Vin de pays
Vin de pays
Vin de pays is a French term meaning "country wine". Vins de pays are a step in the French wine classification which is above the table wine classification, but below the VDQS and Appellation d'origine contrôlée classifications...

 never include the word château.

Cru (wine)
Cru is a French wine term which is traditionally translated as "growth", as it was originally the past participle of the verb "croitre" . As a wine term it is closely connected to terroir in the sense of an "extent of terrain having a certain physical homogeneity ....

, a word used to classify wines can mean different things. For example, in the Médoc
The Médoc is a region of France, well known as a wine growing region, located in the département of Gironde, on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, north of Bordeaux. Its name comes from Medullicus, or "country of the Medulli", the local Celtic tribe...

 part of Bordeaux, this terms means the château is one of the classified growths in the regions. In Saint-Émilion
Saint-Émilion AOC
Saint-Émilion is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée for wine in the Bordeaux wine region of France, where it is situated in the Libourne subregion on the right bank of the Dordogne...

, the term cru is of little importance because it bears little relation to quality. For Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

 the term cru classé is included only for historical reasons. On the other hand, the use of the term cru in Switzerland
Swiss wine
Swiss wine is produced from nearly 15 000 hectares of vineyards, and the wines are mainly produced in the west and in the south of Switzerland, in the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais and Vaud...

 has no foundation and it is included at the producer's discretion.


To better reach the market of blind
Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.Various scales have been developed to describe the extent of vision loss and define blindness...

 or sight-impaired wine consumers, labels have appeared printed in Braille
The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing.Braille was devised in 1825 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman. Each Braille character, or cell, is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two...

. Currently the only known winemaker who has taken the initiative to print all their labels in Braille is Chapoutier
Chapoutier, or Maison M. Chapoutier, is a winery and négociant business situated in Tain-l'Hermitage in the Rhône region in France. Chapoutier produces wine from appellations across the Rhône region, but it is typically their top Hermitage wines, both red and white, that receive the most attention...

 winery in France, who began the practice in 1996. Other wineries in a number of countries have followed Chapoutier's lead and have braille available on at least some of their bottles.

Neck and back labels

Neck and/or back labels may appear on a bottle. The neck label may include the vintage date and the back label usually gives extra (and usually optional) information about the wine. Government required warnings are usually found in the back label, as well as UPC
Universal Product Code
The Universal Product Code is a barcode symbology , that is widely used in North America, and in countries including the UK, Australia, and New Zealand for tracking trade items in stores. Its most common form, the UPC-A, consists of 12 numerical digits, which are uniquely assigned to each trade item...

s. For example, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 requires alcoholic beverages to include a warning regarding the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. The label also has to mention the possibility of a reduced ability to drive while intoxicated. Wine labels in the United States must also disclose that the wine contains sulfites.

Wine laws

There are different reasons for wine laws. Labelling regulations can be intended to prevent wine from sounding better than it is. Also, it is illegal to say that a wine is made from one grape when it is actually from another.

The label must also include the name and address of the bottler of the wine. If the producer is not the bottler, the bottle will say that the wine was bottled by X bottled for Y producer. Table wines may carry the name of the bottler and the postal code. The label must also include the country of origin.

The size of the font is also regulated for mandatory information. Alcohol content must be included in the label. In Australia and the United States a wine label must also mention that it has sulfites in certain circumstances.

Regulations may permit table wines to be labelled with only the colour and flavour, and no indication of quality. The use of words such as Cuveé
Cuvée is a French wine term derived from cuve, meaning vat or tank. The term cuvée is used with several different meanings, more or less based on the concept of a tank of wine put to some purpose:...

 and grand vin in labels is controlled. As mentioned above, a vin de pays
Vin de pays
Vin de pays is a French term meaning "country wine". Vins de pays are a step in the French wine classification which is above the table wine classification, but below the VDQS and Appellation d'origine contrôlée classifications...

 must never be from a château, but from a domaine.

Allergen warnings

New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and Australian labeling regulations have required an allergen
An allergen is any substance that can cause an allergy. In technical terms, an allergen is a non-parasitic antigen capable of stimulating a type-I hypersensitivity reaction in atopic individuals....

 warning to appear on wine labels since 2002 due to the use of egg whites, milk
Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

, and isinglass
Isinglass is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. It is a form of collagen used mainly for the clarification of wine and beer. It can also be cooked into a paste for specialized gluing purposes....

 in the fining and clarifying of the wine. The United States is considering similar requirements. Winemakers in the U.S. have been resistant to this requirement because the decision to put a wine through a fining process normally occurs after the labels have been ordered, which could lead to allergen warnings on wines that have had no exposure to allergens.
Wine labels from the member states of the European Union must also disclose after 30 June 2012 that the wine was treated with casein and ovalbumin, derived from milk and egg respectively, used as fining agents in the winemaking.


Wine labels have long been collected. This can turn into a full-fledged hobby, with collections organized by theme, country, or region. For others, saving labels may be part of maintaining a wine tasting-notes journal, or just simply to remember a particular wine.

While labels were once easily steamed off, recent automatic bottling and labeling processes at wineries have led to the use of stronger glues. Removing these labels is often difficult and may result in considerable damage to the label. A recent, though by no means universal, innovation to bypass this problem is the use of bottles that come with the ability to tear off a small part of the label in order to remind the drinker of the name and bearing of the wine.

If full label removal is desired, a common approach involves putting hot water inside the bottle which makes the hold of the glue weaker. A knife can then be used to remove the label from one side by lifting it off with even pressure.

Commercial label removal kits apply a strong, transparent sticker over the label surface. The goal is to carefully pull off the sticker and literally tear the front design of the label away from the glued back. In practice, varying degrees of success are encountered and extensive damage to the label can occur.


Creating custom wine labels has gained popularity over the years, with people needing labels for wedding favors, holiday gifts, and promotional campaigns. This is often carried out by specialist companies to avoid any breaches of wine law.

The increase in home wine making has contributed significantly, with hundreds of thousands of people around the world making their own wine instead of buying it. These people often make their own labels as well, or use online label companies. Homemade labels range from ink jet printing on copy paper and adhered with milk, to high quality designs printed on expensive label stock and printed with laser printers.

Further reading

  • Franson, Paul. Labels gone wild. Wine Enthusiast, 2006 (March), 19(3), 28-33.
  • George, Rosemary, The Simon & Schuster Pocket Wine Label Decoder, 1989.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.