• How to read a French wine label

    As a rule French labels are logical and not difficult to read once you get used to the French words. This example in the picture tells us first it is a Product of France. The property is ‘Chateau Fontbonne’. The vintage year is 2003 which means that the wine is made entirely from the harvest of that year. Each bottle is numbered. It is a Bordeaux style wine with Appellation Controlée guarantee.

    At the bottom ‘Mis en Bouteille au Chateau’ means the wine is bottled at the property by the owner, in this case Mr. Phillipe Renier who is ‘Propriétaire-Récoltant’, property owner and grower, at the village of Faleyras in the province of Gironde in Bordeaux. The alcohol volume is 13% and the bottle is 75 cl. The top picture symbol on the left means the owner is an independent wine maker. The lower picture symbol is an alcohol warning to pregnant women.

    Not too hard once you get the hang of it. You can use this rule to read French labels from any wine region.

    It is now becoming more of a trend even in France to stick a back label in explaining what grapes go into the wine, what wine making and ageing procedures are being used, what flagrance and taste to be expected. And horrors, how to serve and enjoy it! Not so long ago it would have been thought condescending because wine drinkers then were supposed to have this knowledge without being told.

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