How to Read Wine Labels

By August 24, 2020 No Comments
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How to Read Wine Labels

Labels can be very informative and give a good indication of the style of the wine in the bottle.  Wine labels must show basic information:

  • the address of the vendor, manufacturer, packer, or importer of the wine
  • the country of origin of the wine
  • the volume of wine in the bottle
  • the alcoholic strength of the wine
  • additives
  • the approximate number of standard drinks in each bottle.

The varietal, geographic and vintage regulations that apply to Australian wine labeling are shown below.


If a vintage is shown on the label, 85% or more of the wine in the bottle must be from the named vintage year.


If labeled as a single variety, a minimum of 85% or more of the wine must be made from the named variety.  If a wine is made from a blend of different varieties, the wines in the blend must be named in the order of their contribution by volume.

Geographic area

If a specific geographic area is shown on the label, 85% or more of the product must come from that area.

Alcohol content

The alcohol content of the wine must also be shown on the label.  For wine sold in Australia, the stated alcohol content can be plus or minus 1.5% of the stated level.  

As stated above, the existing laws relating to grape variety, the region of origin and vintage require that if a label claims that a wine is made from a specific grape variety, it must contain at least 85% of that variety, if two varieties are listed on the label, the dominant variety must come first.  For example, a wine which is 75% Chardonnay and 25% Semillon must be labeled ‘Chardonnay Semillon’.  If the percentages were reversed, it must be labeled ‘Semillon Chardonnay’.  If there are equal percentages of the grape varieties, either name can be placed first.

How to Improve Your Wine Knowledge

Taking time to understand and fully appreciate a nice glass of wine can greatly increase its potential to bring enjoyment to any occasion.

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The enjoyment of drinking the wine is, after all, what it is all about.

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