Let us try to put ourselves in the position of buyers. We want to choose a bottle of wine for our diner, but we cannot benefit from the shop assistant’s help. Is there any chance we will select an appropriate wine by only looking at the bottle? The answer is perverse but true. There is opportunity we will succeed, although the chance is the smaller, the fewer wines we tasted and the less we know about them. Unfortunately, the only sensible way to learn wines is empiricism. The experience in this subject is worth our weight in gold. The theoretical knowledge itself is not probable to be sufficient enough, because to know wine means to taste it and not only read about it. Therefore we look at the label and what do we see? In principle everything and nothing. There is a huge amount of text which we can read, but what exactly does it say?  The country of origin/region: this information is extremely important. It gives the first impression of what the wine will be like. The country of origin determines to a considerable degree the climate in which the wine is produced and often the soil on which the grapevine grows. However, only the country of origin can sometimes be too little precise information. Also the region is important, sometimes even the plot on which the vineyard is situated. This more detailed information concerns mainly great wines of France, Italy or some bottles of Spain. The so called New World countries do not tell any detailed information about the origin. They rather give wines their own names, which carry, appropriate information with it.
The information only about origin will not be very useful if it comes to wine from the
New World, but can be of much help in Italian, French or Spanish one. Below I will give two extreme examples: when we take the Argentine wine from the very known and vast region of Mendoza, not knowing the grape variety and the production process, in principle we will not be able to say anything about the bottle. If we catch the Italian bottle of Chianti Classico, it will be obvious the wine is made from Sangiovese and can be characterized by not a very complicated structure, high acidity and strong tannins, as well as very pleasant, mild bouquet of rose petals, cold tea and oil. Therefore, as you can see, the same information in different places can have totally different content.However, if we add the information about the grape variety to the country of origin, then the situation can change completely. Grape variety/varieties: this is the kind of grape used for wine production. Together with terroir (French word describing the origin of wine, in this notion the climate and the soil on which the grapevine grows is contained), it is the most important factor that shapes the taste. Knowing the varieties we more or less know what and taste we can expect. Appelation: If wine has any appellation or denomination it means more or less that it meets the production requirements given in a certain area for a specific kind of wine. In no way it means that anybody controls the taste of the wine. The thing which is controlled are ingredients and the production process itself. Usually it is better when the wine has denomination than when it does not, but there are many wonderful wines without any appropriate mark on the label. Vintage: there are better and worse vintages, which is anyway obvious. Sometimes everything goes wonderfully, sometimes hopelessly and from time to time ordinarily. The same is with wine. In some regions the weather affects the taste more, in others less. It should be remembered that the world, and even an individual country is a vast area and in all regions the weather could be different. That is why we say about good or bad vintages for regions or even vineyards and not generally for the whole countries or, what is more, continents. However, a good vintage can change a lot in the taste of wine and it is worth remembering it when we decide to buy a serious bottle. Alcoholic degree: it can reveal how strong taste the wine will have, how dense and warming it will be. However, this information can be misleading, so it should not be taken into consideration too much. But generally: the higher the alcoholic degree is, the stronger, more complete and denser the wine gets. Other information: captions such as Reserva, Gran(d) Reserva or others are significant only in some regions. Only in Spain we have to do with a situation when such marks are connected with definite information. Reserva means that the wine was aged in a barrel from 12 to 24 months and Grand Reserva signifies that the time was extended to at least 24 months. Such information can be a quality marker but often no specific features are connected with it. This knowledge can be useful in classifying wines of the same producer; then the more serious the caption is, theoretically the better wine we have. However, sometimes the information is not necessary as the price of the bottle tells us much enough.