In order to choose a worthy wine by your own out of variety presented at the shelves of wine rooms or to declare oneself as a connoisseur in versed judges’ society you should just learn to read! A label and a bottle can tell about its content a lot, but only if you can get it right.
Some sources name Dom Perignon as the inventor of wine labels, the other Veuve Clicquot. According to some indications famous grande dame of Champagne was the first among wine makers who stick paper labels to exported bottles. One way or another but the birth of wine label was in the beginning of XVII century and was directly related to the invention of dense and dark glass bottle, which permitted to transport bottled wine, because before that it had been stored and transported to a consignee in woods and served on the table in fragile decanters.
And nowadays the connoisseurs of this beverage may boast with a good knowledge of Europe geography. Because a lot of wines got their names not only by a variety, but by a place of production, however it is also the truth for strong alcoholic beverages. Here are just some examples. French province Champagne where the monk Perignon made effervesce white grape wine gave its name to famous local wines. Small towns Congañ and Cahors gave the names to the beverages known to everybody. The name of port wine was give by Portuguese city Porto, and Madeira name after same-name island Madeira.
The wines, which have the word Chateau, have their special place. These French wines are called castle wines. They are produced in old-established estates which centred around a castle. A vineyard has full production cycle: from grape cultivation to wine bottling and further treatment in castle’s cellars. Each estate hands down the traditions of wine making from one generation to another that is why castle wines have unique taste and bouquet.
A shape of a bottle is also a good teller. Wine bottles differ not only by their capacities, but by the shape and colour. For example, in Germany you may define a region of wine production by the colour of wine bottle. Green bottle contain Moselle wines, brown bottle are used for Renish wines, such as Madonnamilch and Spring of Frog-Queen. By the shape of bottle you may also learn the pedigree of wine. The most spread of them are Bordeaux, Rhine, Champagne, Burgundy, Franconian. But there are some interesting exceptions. Legend has it that one day Luis XIV was served with wine from his favourite wine maker Jean-Paul Chenet. The wine was magnificent, but its bottle was a little curves. The king became angry and ordered to bring the wine maker to Louvre. To the king’s question, why the bottle had so curved neck, smart wine maker responded: “The bottle is not curved. It is straight but it bends low before the shine of Your Majesty!”. From that time all J.P.CHENET wines are put in bottles with slightly curved neck, and this wine became the symbol of French elegance and refinement of French Culture. And a sense of humour.
As for the label itself it should be mentioned that by labels you can trace the history of pictorial art of XX century. The labels of Chateau Mouton Rothschild wines, expensive, with delicate taste and bouquet have been made by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali. The works of great artists, which sometimes were used to decorate the labels, and at times even exclusively allowed to strengthen considerably image component of the product. According to the tradition the payment for artists’ work was 10 boxes of wine 12 bottles each (including the millesime of the year for which the label was made). The sketches of great artists as well as Rothschild wines are sold by auctions for astronomical amounts. The example of Rothschild is not the only one. Long before this brilliant idea came into the mind of Philippe de Rothschild, inconsolable countess de Toulouse-Lautrec after the death of her son started to print the fragments of his pictures and sketches on the labels of Chateau Malrome.
The main rule is that the wines of different regions should be read differently. The best solution to find out all peculiarities of wine literacy is to apply to sommelier school and take a couple of master-classes and train hard, but not in degustation! In reading.