Wine 101: Decoding the Label

It’s a classic scenario: You’re at the store, staring at an aisle of wine and you have no idea where to begin to find a bottle that will make you (and others) happy. This column offers a crash course in wine, giving you the wine hacks you need to dive into the world of vino. This month we decode the wine label, define terms, and give key advice.

Labels may also include: 

  • Description – This is where you will find a short blurb about what the wine tastes like, how dry it is, the aromas, and sometimes a suggested food pairing. 
  • Website – Check out the winery website for more information or to find more varieties from the same brand. 
  • Sulfites – Sulfites are a naturally occurring byproduct of fermentation. Winemakers add more sulfites to preserve the taste and color of the wine, which extends the shelf life. Sulfites do not cause headaches. In fact, there are more sulfites in several processed foods than in a glass of wine. 

Try taking notes on the differences between brands and styles, what you like and don’t like, and flavor profiles. Do your favorite wines have something in common? 

Most importantly, wine is meant for relaxing and celebrating good company. Don’t overthink it. Be adventurous, try something new. If you’re really stuck, try limiting yourself to one region at a time. I recommend Texas.

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