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How to Read a Wine Label

As you begin to learn about wine you might find it confusing reading a wine label whether it’s from Israel or somewhere else.  One reason is labeling laws and designations differ from country to country and sometimes region to region within a country or some terms even winery to winery. As a whole, a label can be confounding to the uninitiated but if you break the label down into common factors you’ll find the information more enlightening than mystifying.

 

Varietal: is a term that refers to what grape specifically was used to make a wine. in Israel as in other New World wine regions, at least 85% of the grape listed on the front label must be in the wine and at least the second major grape must be lited on the back label. If no grape varietal is listed on the label it’s most often a blend with the most significant grape being less than 85%

In Israel, common Red varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carignan, Merlot, Syrah/Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Petite Sirah Cabernet Franc  & Muscat Hamburg
Common white varietals are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Emerald Riesling, White Riesling,  French Columbard, Gewurtraminer, Muscat Alexandria & Muscat Canelli although French Columbard is most often found in brandies, sparkling wines and less expensive blends.

Appellation: referes to the specific region the grapes were harvested from more than the where the wine is made.

Vintage: Vintage is the year the grapes were harvested and not the year the wine was realeased although in some cases it can be the same year.

Alcohol level: The alcohol level/% of the wine often can tell us the style fo the wine. Higher alcohol wines are more typical of generally warmer wine regions such as Israel.

Kosher: It used to be Israeli Kosher wines had some stamp of kosher supervision on the front label but now it’s more common on the back label. Wines that are kosher are also typically kosher for Passover as well and will say as much.

Mevushal: Mevushal is a standard of kosher winemaking intended for observant Jews when they believe non-observant Jews or non-Jews would be handling the wine after it’s opened.

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