The confusing world of wine

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Every profession has its own terminology, but if you want to communicate to a wide audience, then you need to use language ordinary people understand. And nowhere is this more true than in the wine industry.

If you buy a can of beer, understanding the label is pretty straightforward. It just tells you that it’s beer and who made it. End of story.

But with wine you find yourself faced with a lot of confusing information on the front label. This will usually include the type of grape, the name of the producer (or the brand, which might be different), the country, the area where the wine was made, and the year the grapes were harvested. However, labels vary from country to country, and some wines might include where the wine was bottled or use terms such as “reserva” or “old vines”. And then on the label on the back you have to make sense of all the marketingspeak about a wine having the aroma of plums, blackcurrants or cedar, or being “crisp”, “zesty”, “refreshing”, “young,” “full-bodied,” or “lingering”.

You’ll sometimes hear people say that they love chardonnay or Rioja. However, chardonnay is a variety of grape and Rioja is the name of a region in Spain. Chardonnay grapes were originally grown in Burgundy in France, but have since been planted in many countries. And a wine produced in Rioja can be made from different types of grapes, such as tempranillo or grenache.

Perhaps the answer to this confusion is to find out what wine you like and then note the grape variety and the region of the country which produced it. For example, in my case, I’ve discovered that I like wines from Rioja made with tempranillo grapes. I now feel that I have a foothold in the world of wine. Okay, it’s an unsteady one, but at least I’m beginning to make sense of what is a vast and fascinating industry, if at the same time a confusing one.

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