Let us learn how to read labels
What are the secrets behind wine bottle labels?
“Appellation of Origin”
The indication “Appellation of Origin” on a bottle, suggests that the wine is produced in a specific viticultural area, while the production of the labeled articles has followed concrete specifications which are prerequisite to the inclusion of the toponym (name of the locality) in the name of the wine. These specifications include the geographical zone covered by the appellation of origin (must and wine production must occur in that zone), the grape variety that has to be used, the methods for viticulture and wine-making, the maximum yield per hectare (production beyond a specific limit will result to the removal of authorization to use the origin title) and finally, the alcohol percentage.
In Greece, the appellation of origin depicts certain geographical areas of communities (e.g. Amyntaio, Naoussa etc.), whereas in countries such as France, it refers to specific production domains. The appellation of origin comprises two sub-categories: Appellation d’origine controlée / registered designation of origin (A.O.C and V.Q.P.R.D) Vin de Qualité Produit dans une Region Determinée/Quality Wine Produced in a Well Defined Region),which we can distinguish from the blue and red foil respectively. In Greece, this distinction is conferred on the basis of a State Decision, while in other countries it is conferred by specific committees of tasting and evaluation.
The appellations of origin already given in Greece are as follows: Amyntaio, Goumenissa, Naoussa, Plagies Melitona, Rapsani, Zitsa, Aghialos, Kefallinia, Mantineia, Patras, Messenikola, Nemea, Limnos, Paros, Santorini, Rhodes, Siteia, Archanes, Daphnes, Peza, Samos, Muscat of Patras, Muscat of Rio, Muscat of Kefallinia, Muscat of Rhodes, Muscat of Limnos, Mavrodaphne of Patras, Mavrodaphne of Kefallinia.
This indication is used for wines whose names include the name of a specific location, with the addition of the quote “Local”. They should not be confused with wines that bear the indication “appellation of origin” as they don’t fulfill the respective criteria and they do not have the respective quality foil. Local wines do comply with certain specifications which mostly refer to the use of grapes that are grown in that particular area, each producer, nevertheless, maintains the option to adopt different production techniques.
“Reserve” and “Grand Reserve”
These indications are only found in wines of appellation of origin and refer to the aging time period of the wine. With regard to white wines, the indication “Reserve” suggests an aging period of 2 years, out of which, 6 months in a barrel. For red wines, the aging time is 3 years (at least 6 months in a barrel). A white Grand Reserve has aged for no less than three years, one of which was in a barrel. A red Grand Reserve has aged for a period of 4 years, 2 of which were in a barrel, whose volume capacity should not exceed 600 litres
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