Translating a French Wine Label

In the example label, starting at the top, it states Grand Vin de Bordeaux, While this sounds fancy, it really just means it’s one step up from a Bordeaux chateau’s lowest quality wine. Next, we see Cru Bourgeois. This designation is unique to the area this bottle came from (Médoc of the Bordeaux region) also meaning it is a value (lower cost, lower quality) wine produced by a particular chateau (winery). Chateau Pierre de Montignac is the winery that made this bottle. Medoc is the area within Bordeaux this bottle originated from. (This is denoted by the statement Appellation Médoc Contrôllé). The number 2016 is the vintage of the wine, meaning the year the grapes were harvested. Finally, Mis en Bouteille au Chateau, means the wine was grown, made, and bottled at the chateau. So what should you take away from this? At minimum, look for an indication of the geographical origin of the wine. Does it only say Bordeaux but nothing more specific? This means the fruit used in the wine mostly came from the Bordeaux region. Does it liste something more specific? Medoc, Saint-Emilion, Pauilliac, or one of the many other options? Then the character of the wine will be a bit more consistent with wines produced around it. Vintage is important as well but we will get to that topic later!

-TheLooseTannin

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