Reading Wine Labels-Italy

Here I go through a typical front and back of a wine label pointing out various terms and helpful phrases to know.

1. The designation “Riserva” has a legal distinction. In the case of this wine (Brunello) it requires an additional year of aging, at least 6 months in bottle.

2. Italian Wines are usually labeled by the location of where the grapes are grown to indicate the style of the wine. A common labeling (shown here) indicates the grape variety and region. Brunello (a type of Sangiovese grape) di (meaning “of” or “from”) Montalcino (the town). Therefore, Brunello wine from Montalcino.

3. Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) is Italy’s highest designation.

4. Vintage year-the year the grapes were harvested. Not when the wine was bottled, or when it is released.

5. The wine producer- Fastelli

Not much new information here:

1. The text is in Italian only which usually means it might not be intended for export or is smaller production, usually for local consumption. There is no sulfite warning label (although there are sulfites in the wine) so this bottle cannot be sold in the United States.

2. Roughly translated “bottled at the source”- Paridiso estate of (owned by) Mauro Fastelli. See below terms for more explanations.

3. A little hard to read but 13% is the percentage of alcohol by volume.


azienda agricola: farm, estate-sometimes shortened (as above) to az. agr.

bianco: white

bottiglia: bottle

cantina: winery or wine cellar

castello: castle

colli: hills

consorzio: group of producers for a specific wine

DO: denomination of origin

DOC: higher designation than DO: denomination of controlled origin

DOCG: the highest designation: denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin.

fattoria: farm or estate

IGT: typical geographic origin indication (very common term being used for wines that do not fit into the regulations of DO, DOC, or DOCG. Does not mean that they are lesser quality.

imbottigliata: bottled (all’origine: at the source)

produttore: producer

riserva: reserve; wine which has been aged a longer, specified time (usually applies to a DOC and DOCG)

rosso: red

superiore: in DOC or DOCG wines indicates a higher level of alcohol (usually 1% higher) or aging and sometimes a special geographic origin.

tenuta: farm or estate

uva: grape

vendemmia: vintage (or harvest)

vigna or vigneto: vineyard

vino da tavoloa: table wine (lowest quality level)-most is made for local consumption and not exported to the United States.

Love Brunello…read more

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