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Reading the Label

This one is a really big one if you want to learn as you drink. If you don’t read the label then every time that you choose a wine, how will you know what you liked about it, and what you didn’t? Equally so, if your wine bottle just says ‘table wine’, or ‘blended’, then it contains a mix of grapes from several different plants. This might taste great, but it’s probably not going to help you with the long-term quest of being able to pick up a bottle of wine and know if you like it.

It can be really easy to be sucked into a wine based on how good the label looks but don’t be fooled. As your mother used to say, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The back of the label will tell you what is inside. Generally speaking, the more information that is on the back of the label, the better.

The things that you should look for on the label are as follows:

The country and the region that the wine was produced in.

If you can’t find the country then it’s likely that what you are looking for is the region of the wine. Once you know the regions of your wine a little better you will be able to identify both the quality and your personal preference for each. The same goes for the country. As we mentioned earlier, certain countries that have a higher average temperature are more likely to produce sweeter wines than cooler countries, owing to the speed at which the grapes ripen.

The Name of the Producer/Wine

Again, as you begin choosing your wine, this probably won’t mean an awful lot to you, but the more that you watch out for the producers that you like the more you will be able to know that you will like a wine before you drink it. This is because wine producers, much like music producers create their own small nuances in their wines.

If you like one of their drinks, the chances are quite high that you will like the other things that they produce. The same is reversed, if you don’t like it, then you may not like the other things that they produce- although we would caution about writing off a producer entirely over one bottle of wine. Once again, as you begin it’s something that shouldn’t affect your choices too much, just something to look out for.

Not all wines will have the producer listed on them. This means that they were made on a larger scale, which can mean that the wine is of lower quality, but again, most of choosing a good wine, for beginners especially, is more about finding out what you like rather than the absolute best quality of everything.

Grape Variety

Probably the most obvious thing on this list. Grape variety what you would consider being the ‘name’ of the wine. This includes things like merlot, malbec, chardonnay, and so on.

While there is plenty of other aspects of a wine that can affect the taste and whether or not you enjoy the wine, the grape variety is the most obvious choice. If there is no grape variety listed on the bottle then the chances are pretty high that it is a blended grape variety. This isn’t a bad thing, but getting one variety as you’re starting out is a helpful way of ensuring that you know what you like.


As we mentioned earlier, vintage isn’t something that you really need to be worrying about yet, as the vast majority of wine that is made is not made to be vintage. However, when reading a wine label, the year on the bottle (the year the grapes were harvested) is something that you should learn to notice and appreciate.


Sulfites (when used excessively) are the thing in wine that gives you a headache. By law, wine produces need to disclose if their sulfite quantity exceeds 10mg/per liter. However, lower sulfites don’t necessarily mean a bottle of better wine, as sulfites lower the chances of oxidization and certain other issues that wines can suffer from.

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