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Reading French wine labels

Category: Midi-Pyrenees - Food and drink, Midi-Pyrenees - Wines of the Midi-Pyrenees

Key points about this information item Reading French wine labels


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How to read French wine labels

 

Buying wine can be quite a daunting experience, especially when it’s all written in a foreign language.  For those who aren’t familiar with French wines, they may see little difference between bottles other than the price and the label, however; the quality can vary hugely and isn’t always linked to price.  Understanding a few basic points about the wine, by reading the label properly can help you choose.

 

French wine labels are strictly controlled and guarantee three things: typicality, quality and traceability.  These rules are the same for popular and more exclusive wines.

 

There are two main types of wine labels:

Vins de Pays d'Oc are the land and table wines and are the most common types of wine in the Midi-Pyrenees.

 

Vins A.O.C.(wine produced in a specific area in the region) . The winemakers in the region who produce these wines must respect the AOC's specific labelling and quality requirements.

 

Chateau labels

 

See Photo 1.

  1. Name of the producer
  2. Vintage, or year the grapes were harvested to make the wine.
  3. Appellation
  4. Alcohol content: percentage of ethanol per litre of wine.
  5. Volume of wine in the bottle. 
  6. Where the wine was bottled – at the Château by the owner of the property.  

 

Brand Labels

Produced by cooperatives and some négociants, brand wines are blends of wines from many winemakers (thereby assuring constant quality of a large volume of wine). They also represent good value for money and are enjoyed the world over. Labels for these wines also must contain specific information as dictated by the AOC.

 

In France, the law requires wine bottles to have the following information:

 

  • Name of the AOC
  • Health warning for pregnant women
  • Warning « contains sulphites
  • Country of Origin
  • Bottler Details
  • Nominal Volume
  • Actual Alcoholic Strength
  • Lot Number

 

 

In recent years, Midi-Pyrenees winemakers have begun to modernise their labels

along with their producing techniques and the region is now home to some quality wines.

 

Supermarket wine fairs in Midi-Pyrenees during the Autumn

 

 

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