How to choose a quality wine for a festive table according to the label

  1. Igor Ershov
  2. How to read Russian wine labels
  3. What is “Bulk” and what is bad in it
  4. How to combine wine and food on the holiday table
  5. How to read labels of imported wines

What is important to know when choosing a wine in a store, why you shouldn’t focus on the description of taste and aroma, what will tell about wine on the shelf the year of harvest and what is the fundamental difference between the choice of still wines and sparkling wines?

“Paper” learned from a sommelier how to read labels of Russian and imported wines, why wine produced from someone else’s grape juice is suspicious and whether it is worth serving tartarines with sparkling wine.

“Paper” learned from a sommelier how to read labels of Russian and imported wines, why wine produced from someone else’s grape juice is suspicious and whether it is worth serving tartarines with sparkling wine

Igor Ershov


How to read Russian wine labels

The more specific information is present on the label and wine labeling, the more likely it is to understand what we are holding and to choose the highest quality product.

  1. Wine name

    On the front label we can often find the name of the wine or the manufacturer. If we are familiar with the manufacturer, for us this is a plus. But we do not know everyone. Also on the labels often found proper names, which can be confused with the manufacturer or locality of origin. Suppose the mythical wine "Crimean vine": buyers are likely inclined to believe that it is from the Crimea. But this is not at all necessary, since it is just a proper name and does not mean anything concrete.

  2. Grape sort

    Very often, in the style of the New World, we put grape varieties on the label. If the grape variety is not specified, the question arises: what is this wine made of? Therefore, we can use a counter label. We turn the bottle and read, let's say: "The wine is made from grapes varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc" and we understand that everything with this wine is in order. But if the counter-label says something like “Made from high-quality European grape varieties”, this may well mean that the producers simply did not know what they were making wine from.

  3. Crop year

    On the labels of still wines, the crop year is often imposed. There is no established tradition of successful or unsuccessful years in Russia, but from this date we can understand the freshness of wine. So, if we take an inexpensive white wine Sauvignon Blanc, for example, in 2010, then we should be wary: why haven't you drunk it in five years? Sauvignon Blanc is not stored for a long time, you need to drink it young. The same with one of the favorite autochthonous (local grape varieties - note “Paper” ) - Siberia. But if it is written that this wine is reserve or seasoned, it is logical that it may be older.

    Sparkling wines are harder, the harvest year is rarely written on them. In the same province of Champagne manufacturers write on the label only the outstanding year, that is two to three years per decade. So more attention should be paid to the dates of bottling or bottle design. Bottling date - for wines made by Frolova-Bagreeva , and on the sparkling wines produced by classical French technology, they write the date of registration (as the wines were poured and lay for several years after the harvest in the cellar).

    In general, sparkling wines are not predisposed to long-term storage, so when choosing, it is worth watching how young the wine is. But if we see on the label that this is the harvest of 2010, you should not be afraid: it may well be that on the counter label we read that the date of issue is 2015. So everything is in order.

  4. Alcohol percentage

    On the bottle must be indicated the percentage of alcohol. True, for Russian wines it is possible to indicate a “fork”: from so many up to so many percent. But this does not lower the quality of the wine. Often, large-scale plants that print counter labels five years ahead indicate a “fork”. And from year to year the sun heats differently, which means that sugar accumulated differently and the percentage of alcohol varies somewhat.

  5. Region

    Quite often on the label you can find an inscription like "Prepared from grapes grown in the Crimea." It is legal and helps us understand the origin of the grapes. In Russia today there are eight geographical areas of wine production. And the more precisely the region is indicated, the better: it helps to control quality.

  6. Preservatives

    An important point that often scares people away is the inscription “Contains E220 preservative” or “Contains sulphite”. All these are natural preservatives, which should be in wine according to GOST. And their norms in Russia are extremely minimal, three to four times lower than European ones.

  7. Table and vintage wine

    More people are often afraid of the wording "table wine". From the Soviet time there is a division into table and vintage wines. The table is a young wine, vintage - the one that has been allowed enough time. This is not what should be alarmed, but the inscription “wine drink”: the very word “wine” tells us that the contents of the bottle are natural.

  8. Bouquet description and gastronomy tips

    On the counter label, we often see descriptions of the flavor and some recommendations on gastronomy and serving. This information is completely optional for a very simple reason: wine develops. Even if the manufacturer approached the issue very carefully, called a specialist who was able to professionally evaluate the wine and recommend the serving temperature and gastronomy, it will take only a year after bottling and the wine will change.

What is “Bulk” and what is bad in it

Bulk is wine material or grape juice that was not obtained in Russia. Traditional suppliers of the beam are the countries of the New World: Chile, Argentina, South Africa, as well as Spain. In these countries, grapes are grown, harvested, and juice is made from it, which, having been preserved, is sent in the cheapest way - by sea - to Russia. The juice may be concentrated, already in Russia it is diluted to a certain consistency.

In addition, it can be a ready-made wine - canned fermented grape juice. But the question is, what is the quality of wine. The laws of the same European Union regulate quality control, and to what extent it is observed in the production of wine in Russia - the question is rather to the chemists. As a sommelier, I can say that such wines are not very good in taste and aroma. Still, the wine should be bottled where the wine grew.

If we talk about juice, then even more questions arise: how it is fermented, and so on. But the most critical moment, perhaps, in the first and in the second case is that the wine material is sufficiently preserved, as it floats to us up to six months. Wine sulfation is a big problem, and although the preservative itself is harmless, the less it is in wine, the better.

Balk provokes the substitution of concepts. Some manufacturers act fairly honestly and write on bottles, suppose that this is an Argentinean wine of such and such sort, and behind it, on back label, that the country of origin is Argentina, and bottling and bottling, for example, the city of Vyborg. But there are cases when the wine produced from Chilean, for example, wine material is written that it is Russian. So often happens with sparkling wines, most of those on which it is written "Russian", made from the beam.

How to combine wine and food on the holiday table

In general, the selection of gastronomy for wine is a difficult task. But the general recommendation for still wines is this: white wine is served with white meat or fish, red wine - with red. Here it is important to pay attention to the fact that we say not: white - to fish, and red - to meat. The same tuna is a fish, but with a very dense texture, almost like beef: not all white wine will survive it. Or chicken - why does she need red? White wine should still be served with chicken.

There are also transitional dishes, such as pink salmon, including varying degrees of salinity. Here it is worth trying an alternative wine of pink color, which is now gaining more and more popularity, or pink sparkling wine. This combination will be curious.

In addition, the New Year's table is primarily a sparkling wine. To him, the Russians love to serve chocolate and fruit. I do not think this is the perfect combination, but if people are used, then why not. For us, sparkling wine and tangerines - this is already a classic.

How to read labels of imported wines

The situation with imported wines is very complicated, as each country has its own classification. But in general, here the front label will be important for us, as the back label is glued in Russia, sometimes making mistakes.

On the face we will see the manufacturer, but, again, if we are not very good at winemaking, it will be hard for us to draw some kind of conclusion from this. It is easier to focus on such brands as, for example, “Burgundy”, “Chablis” or “Bordeaux” in France, “Chianti” in Italy.

Grapes on the wines of the Old World often can not stand, except in Germany. On the counter label, it makes sense to look for information about whether the wine was actually produced in the indicated European or New World country or was already made in Russia.

If the grape variety is not specified, the question arises: what is this wine made of?
So, if we take an inexpensive white wine Sauvignon Blanc, for example, in 2010, then we should be wary: why haven't you drunk it in five years?
Or chicken - why does she need red?


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