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(Video) How To Read a French Wine Label

Pascale Bernasse | Sunday, Sep 14th 2014

Have you ever looked at a French wine label and wondered what it all meant? In this video, we break down reading a French wine label into six easy steps.

Readers often ask me how to read a French wine label and this can be complicated for the casual drinker; and it may leave you scratching your head. So here are our six tips to reading a French wine label.

  • First you want to find the name of the chateau or the domain; that’s going to help identify the quality of the wine.
  • Next, see if you can find the name of the producer, which may or may not be on the label. If it is on the label it’s also an indication of the quality of the wine. Keep in mind that a good producer from an estate of less reputation may produce better wine than an estate that has a classification, but only produces mediocre wine.
  • Third is the vintage. Not every growing year is the same so it’s good to familiarize yourself which are the best vintage years, which are the most coveted vintage years, and which are the vintage years you prefer.
  • Fourth is the appellation. Appellation is where the grapes are grown. On this label, for example, St. Julien is the appellation. St. Julien is in the Medoc, which is in Bordeaux, and it happens to be one of my preferred appellations in Bordeaux, so that would resonate for me when I am looking for a French wine.
  • Fifth is the classification. You may see something like Grand Cru Classé, Grand Vin, Cru Bourgeois, Classified Growth, or nothing at all. It’s important for you to familiarize yourself with the classification system because that could help determine the quality of the wine as well.
  • And last, but certainly not least, is the alcohol content. This may range anywhere from 11 to 15 percent and it’s important for you to know which type of alcohol content you prefer. For example, I like between 12 and 13. Anything more than that might be too much for me, so I keep an eye on that when I’m looking for French wine.

And there you have it! So the next time you’re at the wine store purchasing wine, you’ll be able to do so with confidence and you’ll also have a better time explaining why you chose that wine at your next dinner party.

And that’s it, that’s your Tuesday Tip in about a minute. Thanks for watching, stay tuned for our next Tuesday Tip in about a minute and visit us at wine-tours-france.com.

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