Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2014 Contents |WINE|
MAGAZINE | 11
I HAVE SEEN so many people in supermarket aisles
and wine shops desperately trying to make sense of
wine labels. Wine labels are important sources of in-
formation for consumers since they tell the type and
origin of the wine. The label is often the only resource
a buyer has for evaluating the wine before purchasing
it. Certain information is ordinarily included in the wine
label, such as the country of origin, quality and type of
wine, alcoholic degree, producer, bottler, or importer.
The labelling of wines in most wine-producing coun-
tries is governed by Law. While France, in my opinion,
has one of the most complicated set of wine laws, they
are further governed by those of The European Union
(EU). The EU is home to the world's largest wine econ-
omy with an average of 70% of world production and
60% of world consumption. Since the EU includes so
many different countries, each with its own and unique
wine laws and legislations, the general classification
rules have been designed to maintain consistency
across the entire economic zone.
I will try and keep this labelling of wine as simple as
possible; however, to fully appreciate the content and
purpose of the label, I will have to delve into some in-
terpretation of labels.
For wines from EU member countries and as stipulated
by the EU the following apply:
• The wines produced within the EU fall under two
broad categories, Table Wine (TW) and Quality Wine
--- the latter is technically known as Quality Wine Pro-
duced in a Specified Region (QWPSR). All levels of
national wine classification systems within the EU
correspond to either the TW or the QWPSR.
• Table wines are basically cheap blends made from
wines sourced from different regions. Most countries
use a term in their official language to describe these
wines, like the French Vin de Table, German Tafelwein,
and Italian Vino da Tavola, and so on. Typically, these
wines are not permitted to disclose the region of pro-
duction nor the vintage on the labels.
• The QWPSR, on the other hand, is a catch-all term to
denote wines of higher quality with protected geo-
graphical indications. To qualify as QWPSR, a wine
has to pass the minimum standards of production
methods, including vineyard practices, and must
come from one of the defined geographical locations.
Every country has its own regulations regarding qual-
ity wines and the terms that appear on the labels fall
within the EU laws as a framework. Some of the
common QWPSR terms from the main producers
1. France: "AOP": Appellation d'Origin Protegée, for-
merly "AOC" (Appellation d'Origin Controlée) where the
"origin" is the geographical location, and "VDQS", or Vin
Délimité de Qualité Supérieure.
2. Italy: "DOCG": Denominazione di Origine Controllata
e Garantita and "DOC", or Denominazione di Origine
3. Spain: "DOCa": Denominacion de Origen Calificada
and "DO", or Denominación de Origen.
4. Germany: "QmP": Qualitätswein mit Prädikat and
"QbA", or Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete.
The higher level QmP wines are further classified ac-
cording to the level of ripeness of the grapes during
harvest. These are:
-- Kabinett: Earliest harvested grapes among the QMP
wines, and the driest.
-- Spätlese: "Late harvest".
-- Auslese: "Select harvest". Only the ripest grapes are
selected during harvest.
-- Beerenauslese: "Berry selection". Individual berries af-
fected by the Botrytis rot become shrivelled; they are
sweeter, and are picked later than Auslese wines.
-- Eiswein: "Ice wine". These wines are made from nat-
urally frozen grapes. The water inside the berry
freezes, concentrating the sugar.
-- Trockeneerenauslese: "Dry berry selection". The
berries that have been left on the vine for the longest
period of time and have naturally shrivelled to an ex-
tent that the sugar content as well as flavour com-
ponents are highly concentrated, are used to make
this wine. These are the sweetest and most expen-
sive of all German wines.
5. Portugal: "DOC": Denominacao de Origem Contro-
I have covered the salient points in the EU wine coun-
tries. I'll continue with wine laws and labels at another
time for what we consider the New World in the world
of wine, that is, USA, South America, South Africa,
Australia and New Zealand.
For every wine topic there is so much information I can
share, sometimes I find it quite challenging to pick
pieces of the information that are relevant to the topic
without going the whole gamut of the topic. There is
so much more on labelling; while to the average person
it's just a label, to wine producers and wine profession-
als, everything written on a label is important and
Have a look at the labels on this page, which I've se-
lected from different Old World wine countries.
Next week, I will talk about cellaring, which is quite an
extensive topic as well. Now let's see you read wine la-
bels like a pro when you go wine shopping.
Salute! And as the Carnival season is upon us, please
designate a driver if you plan on drinking wines or any other alcoholic
beverages. Be responsible.
Phyllis Moreau is a Certified Wine Educator and Executive Wine Somme-
lier. Send her your wine comments or questions at
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