Do You Know Your Wine Labels?

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If you work in the hospitality industry, knowing wine labels can give you a leg up when it comes to providing that extra ounce of service. It can also impress your supervisor.

If you don't already know, there's more to fine wine than just the name on the bottle. For example, the label can give you an indication of the flavors, style and quality of what's under the cork. While different countries each have their own wine label requirements, descriptors like alcohol content, wine type, growing region, type of grape (varietal), producer and vintage (grape harvest year) are all standard on most labels. It also helps to recognize the aesthetic characteristics of the glass bottle, which offers clues as to the varietal.

Guests' tastes vary and anticipating their needs can ensure repeat business, especially among connoisseurs and oenophiles. Some guests may have an affinity for classic wines from France or Italy. Others may show a preference for avant-garde wines from countries like Australia and South Africa. The bottle and label tells an experienced oenophile much about the varietal and style—everything from appellation to vintage to the weight of the grape. (An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown.)

Presentation of wines to guests is also important. Many wine-loving guests expect to hear and see the name of the wine and vintage. Guests will also expect servers to recommend a comparable substitution if a bottle is out of stock. When guests purchase a bottle of wine, they expect the presentation to be as gratifying as the taste.

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.


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