Updated on June 27, 2019
Tips For Choosing Wine
The bottle label
Everything you need to know about that bottle is written on the label. Here’s a short-list of the info you need:
The grape(s) variety: The most important information on the label. The grape family is more than 50% of the wine taste, the other part depending on the plant growing & wine-making process.
The degree of alcohol: The sunnier the weather during the grape growth, the sweeter the grape was at harvest, the higher will be the alcohol rate. Personal tastes left aside, alcohol brings texture and smoothness to the wine.
The country & region of origin: Some grapes accommodate better with some soils & climates. As you gain experience in a tasting, you’ll learn to recognize “exotic” grapes that aren’t usually cultivated.
The bottle caps (for French wines)
Here is something useful to choose french bottles, that not everyone may know about: the caps on the top of French wine bottles have different colors and it is not random at all.
I look out for 3 colors of capsules:
- Green capsule: this means that the wine is from a specific region. The grapes have been grown in that region and the liquid was also produced in the same area, and fall under very strict regulations – basically a sign of quality.
- Blue capsule: a blue capsule means the wine is a “Vin de table”, usually cheap(ish) wines.
- The orange/brown capsule is for sweet liquors and wines.
The other thing to look out for are the following 2 words:
- Recoltant (or the letter R), which means that the wine was created entirely by one person. They grew the grapes, harvested them and produced themselves.
- Negociant (or the letter N) means that the wine was made by someone else than the producer of the grapes. It is a merchant who assembles the production of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name. Now, this does not necessarily mean that the wine isn’t good, but the assumption is that if someone has grown the grapes and produced the wine themselves, they have possibly taken better care.
Although you will always find these capsule tops on wine bottles bought in France, the French wines bought outside France don’t usually have it because the duty is not paid within France and usually the best quality countertop ice maker is used for it. Anyway, it’s still good for you to know in case you travel to the hexagon