Some tips on knowing what’s in the bottle…

When you’re browsing the wine shop, looking for the perfect wine-trip down memory lane, how can you possibly know how to choose something similar to what you drank while you were onboard Athos?! 

Here is a short guide to understand a French wine label.  (The best news is that fluent french is not an obligation…)

French wines carry a lot of information on their labels.  The label tells the exact village and region that the wine comes from.  It lists the classification of wine.  And it is this classification which tells about the grapes used and how it was made. 

Below is a great resource written by Total Wine and More:  it is a color map of Languedoc wine regions, and below that, a clear diagram of what is what on a Languedoc wine label. 

The map outlines the areas called the AOCs – the Appellation d’Origine Controlés.  The AOCs are the officially licensed french wine regions.  Each AOC region has specific rules for which grapes to grow, and how they are to be grown and vinified in order to qualify.

Following the below map and label-guide, you should be able to work out the (relative) prestige of the winery, the age of the wine, the way it was made, the type of grapes used.   

Voilà.  How to understand a french wine label.

A sample:  how to understand a Languedoc Wine Label

…with explanations in red:

Chateau La Voulte Gasparets
Languedoc Wine Label sample

Languedoc AOC Wine Map