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Wine lists can be daunting especially when you have to pick for a dinner party or caught starting hundreds of labels in a large wine shop!

Picking wines is about knowledge but is also about value!

A little research is always needed especially when you like wines and the simple way to start is to know the regions and the vintage, and obviously the labels.

There is also the very important concept of terroir which refers not only to a geographical location the natural environment comprising of the soils and climate that is unique to that location.

The more expensive wines, like most things in life, are expensive because they are produced in limited quantities (per vintage) but more importantly because they are recognized quality labels.

Bordeaux is probably the most famous winemaking region in the world where the wines of Chateau Margaux, Lafite Rothschild, Latour are produced and delivered and served all over the world to the most discerning customers where the price is not a problem.

However, for those who are looking for value there are many choices from the same region that offers good quality for it and here’s a few pointers to reading a wine label



It should have a clear indication of the Chateau, and its Appellation (terroir), and vintage is a clear indication of the progeny of the wine. Other indicators are if the labels mention that the wines are bottled at the Chateau or otherwise. A lot of bulk wines are shipped from France and the quality may suffer if it is not bottle at the origin.


The region also offers wines that are presented by négociants (wine traders and distributors) some of which have become very dominant in their field. One way of noticing this is that it should be mentioned on the label Bottled for (name of négociant). While these labels offer good value, the quality may vary as they could be sourced from a number of different wineries.


Further checks can be made via mobile apps like Wine-Searcher or Vivino who will return a result based on your search on a label. These usually give you a good reference to what other professionals and wine lovers think. However, remember that you should only form your own opinion after you had a real taste – just as they have!


Price. This is often a difficult area and price varies from country to country depending on import and special local taxes in each country. There is always a tendency to equate price with quality but this is not necessarily so. The best approach would be to go to a reputable wine merchant with a price range in mind and ask for the wines they can offer in that range. It is often useful to remember your favourite labels as this tells the merchant the type of wines you prefer. If however, you are selecting a bottle as a gift, you would do well understand the preference of your guest!

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