There are usually 2 labels on each bottle with assorted information required on each. Let’s have a look at what is on each label and what it means.
Front Label: Where the Boring Stuff Is
The U.S. government (and other governments) calls for certain details on the front label of each wine bottle. As you will discover, there's a smaller label along with a larger label. Since there is no classification about which label needs to be what size, a lot of wine makers will make the front label, usually the one with all the government required details, smaller, while making the back label, the one that can be used for logo designs, extremely large.
Puzzled? That is not what you see when you walk into a wine shop, is it! That's because the larger back label, the one with all the interesting logos, will be the one that ends up facing out on the shop shelves. It is a little maneuver to get the customer to see whatever they, as well as the suppliers, would like them to see.
So what really is necessary for the front label? Since the U.S. is easily the most tough with regards to wine labels, most of the wine makers follow the U.S. specifications of labeling bottles of wine. The front label must point out the basics of the bottle; alcohol content, the type of wine, name of the bottler, the volumetric size usually expressed in milliliters, the phrase ‘Contains Sulfites’ and last, but not least, the government notice concerning the probable health issues related to alcohol.
Back Label: Where the Fun Stuff Is
There is nothing that is completely required on the back label, however some of the more familiar phrasing generally appears along with the name of the wine and some snappy images.
The word “reserve” is generally added to the back label if there was extra maturing time at the factory right after bottling the wine. Equally, the “estate” name translates to the winery where the grapes were cultivated is the same one which bottled the wine.
The back label has become mainly for display and it is available to particular selling points the wine-makers desire to focus on. This may have the various make-ups of the wine, if the grapes were squashed by foot like the old days, if it has won any prizes, or even if there is a restricted quantity of cases that may be purchased. Not all of these details are required but they can be valuable for the wine makers in the promoting of their wine.
Learn By Enjoying
The ultimate way to learn to read wine labels, and to completely understand the wine that is in the bottle, is to go out and grab a few bottles and take a good look at them. Once you have the bottles in front of you, try and identify the various parts. Don’t be scared to dive more into each bottle by searching out the different wineries, bottling places and also doing some investigation on the kinds of grapes and proportions that comprise each classification of wine.
Get a group of good friends together, pop open a few bottles and make your research exciting. There are many things to learn about wine through the labeling procedure and you'll make it pleasurable by sampling and trying them out.