How to read wine labels correctly
What criteria do you follow when it comes to buying a bottle of wine? Do you normally take a look at the specifications on the labels? Discover all the information that you can find on a wine bottle. Learn to read wine labels and understand them without any issues!
Before buying a bottle of wine
What makes you choose a bottle of wine in a store? You might follow your friends’ recommendations, look for ones you've seen in a restaurant, the fame of a winery or even just the bottle design that caught your eye. But have you ever stopped to analyse the information that you can find on a wine label?
In the world of food, people are getting used to flipping products over to look at the specifications. We look at its fat content, the level of sugar, where it came from, any possible allergens, etc. In short, we check to see if the product meets a minimum level of quality for us.
Today we want to tell you how to do this with a bottle of wine with complete confidence in yourself. It’s much easier than you think, and it will help you to make better decisions in future purchases. Let’s take a look at an example of one of our bottles of El Coto de Rioja wine.
Wine labels: Front part
Each bottle has its own features and, depending on the design, the information may be presented in a different order. Don’t worry! Everything you learn in this article is what you will find on any bottle of wine, whatever winery it’s from.
In this case, all bottles of El Coto de Rioja have a clean and elegant design. The information is spread across the front label and the back label. On the front you’ll find:
This is the commercial name of the product. This is shown on all bottles and is the quickest and easiest way to recognise a wine. In this case, we’re looking at our Coto Mayor.
Variety and vintage
Just under the name, you can see the type of wine, so you can tell if you're looking at a white wine, a red wine, the variety of grape (such as on the El Coto Selección Viñedos Rosado, which states that it's made using grenache grapes) or the ageing process (Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva).
After this last specification, we also have the vintage, the year in which the grape was harvested to make the wine. You should know that it’s not obligatory to list the vintage on wine labels. So, don't worry if you can’t find it.
Following the example in the image, this is a wine from 2019.
This is the name of the producer and/or the bottler of the wine. Here at El Coto de Rioja, we always make sure that everything is just right, so we bottle all our wines at our own winery. That’s why it says “Embotellado en propiedad” meaning “estate bottled”.
Wine labels always state the geographical indication of the wine, (Ribera de Duero, Rioja, etc.). As you know, our wines are exclusively Rioja quality and, furthermore, we have Qualified Designation of Origin (DOCa). You will always find these seals of quality on a bottle if the wine has them.
One interesting fact that we should mention and something that you will only find on bottles of El Coto de Rioja is our handcrafted engraving. What's special about it? It’s more than just a product design; it’s an icon that symbolises our winery.
Each of the brand includes a natural vignette (an original from our winery) with iconic elements for El Coto de Rioja. These details tell part of our story and reflect a tradition of love for wine.
Wine labels: Back label
Now, let’s take a look at the information that you can find on the back of the bottle.
Since there is more space, given that the front labels normally contain a drawing or illustration from the brand, the back of the bottle normally contains more information about the wine in question. For example, on El Coto de Rioja bottles, we can find:
Description of how wine is made
This is not obligatory, but it’s always interesting to have this extra information which could suggest why the wine is so special. This can be because of the winery’s philosophy or some tasting notes such as aromas or mouth notes. It’s common to use this space to talk about concepts such as fermentation, the maceration, the origin of the grapes, etc.
DOCa, geography and bottler
Some concepts might be reiterated, such as the specifications about the quality of the wine or the bottler. The latter point must be specified in more specific terms, such as the bottler’s official name and address.
Here, we’d like to take a moment to add the official El Coto de Rioja website for the more curious among you. Did you know that you can filter the products by pairings or read more extensive tasting notes about the wine? It’s very useful!
The EU regulations on wine labelling requires that all wines specify whether they contain allergens, specifically sulphites. That’s why this information is obligatory on all bottles.
Other important symbols include recycling labels for glass bottles (always in the green bin) and the fact that it is not recommended consuming alcohol while pregnant.
Regulatory Board Seal
Official seal of the board that regulates the wine in question. For El Coto de Rioja wines, this is the DOCa Rioja Regulatory Board.
Lastly, on the back label, we can see technical features such as the barcode or the batch number for the bottle. In the case of El Coto de Rioja, both the bottle volume and the alcohol percentage appear on the back of the bottles.
The net content of a standard bottle of wine is 75cl, but remember that this always depends on the size of bottle. There are many other kinds of wine bottle! As for the percentage of alcohol, this is shown as a percentage of the volume.
What do you think? We hope that we've cleared up any doubts you might have. Now, you’ll definitely be able to look at even the smallest details without any worries or issues. You have a perfect understanding of every concept that you might find on a wine label. All you have to do now is enjoy the wine!
If you want more ideas to get the most out of your wine, we've got a selection of articles for you.