Legacy in a Glass: How to read a wine label for beginners

When you walk into your local wine and spirits store and select a bottle of wine, how often do you actually stop and read the label? If you’re like most casual wine drinkers, you probably head to the section of the store that carries your preferred type of wine, whether it be reds, whites, or roses, and select something that looks good. Oftentimes, an eye-catching label can be enough to make us buy a particular bottle of wine without even really knowing anything about it.


To help you make a more informed decision the next time you hit the wine aisle at your local store, we’ve put together this simple guide for learning how to read wine labels as a beginner!


Producer or Name

The very first thing you’ll probably notice when picking up a bottle of wine is the producer or name on it. This will usually be bolded or will stand out from the rest of the text, but is sometimes found at the bottom of the label, so be sure to keep an eye out for it. The producer is exactly what it sounds like- it’s who produced that particular wine. It is important to note that some wine labels that only have a wine name are actually products of a larger wine company (like our very own Moon Tree!)


A wine’s region refers to where the grapes that were used to produce a wine were originally sourced. An easy way to gauge this is by thinking in terms of exclusivity and quality. For example, a wine simply labeled “made in California” may be indicative of a more affordable, value wine, whereas a label that mentions a specific area or vineyard may be more high quality. (To help put this into perspective, Moon Tree grapes are sourced from Lake County, California!)


The variety on a bottle of wine simply refers to the grape or grapes that were used to make that particular wine. There are over 10,000 grape varieties in the world, with muscat, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and merlot being some of the most commonly used.

Vintage or Non-Vintage

A wine’s vintage is the year that the grapes were harvested. A vintage wine typically has its year printed somewhere on the bottle, and some wine enthusiasts prefer certain years when selecting a wine. Multi-vintage or non-vintage wines are usually considered lower value wines, as they are blended with wines made from grapes of different years to control the flavor.

Alcohol by Volume

Alcohol by Volume, or ABV, is the alcohol level in a bottle of wine. In America, ABVs are often a lot higher than wine in Europe, and the alcohol level in a bottle can also be indicative of how rich a wine may taste. “Alcohol content is the weight of the wine on your palate,” says Steve Pollack, Legacy’s National Sales Director. “This does not guarantee quality, but when there is enough fruit to balance the weight and acid to keep it all in check, the wines can be very tasty and dynamic. Moon Tree Petite Sirah is a perfect example.”

We hope this guide has made it easier for you to read wine labels! Be sure to check out our Moon Tree range of wines and test your newfound knowledge! https://legacyinaglass.com/moon-tree/

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