How Are Wines Named?

How Are Wines Named?The name of a wine is a method of identifying a favorite drink. By understanding where the wine name originates, it is easier to come up with an appropriate name for a wine made at home or to find a preferred type of wine to drink with a meal at a restaurant. The methods of naming wines are actually much simpler than most individuals think.

Basic Naming Methods

The basic method of naming a wine comes from two possible options: the place the wine originates and the type of grapes used to make the wine. When it comes to identifying the best method of naming the wine, the type of grapes used in the creation are often a key factor in the process.

Naming a wine from the location where it was made is a popular choice for wines that come from Italy and France. This naming practice is not as common outside of Europe because many other countries do not have the long-established vineyards that are found in France and Italy.

The names that are derived from the variety of grapes used in the creation of wine provide a better idea of what is actually in the bottle, but only to a certain extent. The exact figures will vary based on the country and local laws governing wine labels.

Naming Based on Grapes

A common method of naming a wine is based on the variety of grapes. This method is found around the world because it is a simple naming process.

The key to naming a wine based on the variety of grapes is the percentage of grapes used in the wine creation. Different laws and localities dictate the required figures, but wineries can have more than the minimum if preferred.

In the United States, the minimum requirements to name a wine based on the variety around the country is 75 percent of the wine must be a single variety. Some states, like Oregon, set more stringent minimums. In Oregon, a wine must have at least 90 percent of a grape variety to name it after the grape.

Other countries also have minimum variety requirements. In most areas around the world, a wine named after a variety of grapes will have at least 85 percent of the wine made from the particular variety.

Other Grapes in Wines Named From Variety

A wine named from a variety of grapes, like a chardonnay, can contain other varieties of grapes. Any other grape might end up in the wine, but it will never exceed the limitations set by government regulations within the country or state of origin.

Most wines will not state the other varieties that make up the smaller percentage of the wine. Consumers should recognize that the wine can contain other grapes, but it is usually a negligible amount.

Naming After a Place

European wines, particularly from Italy and France, are often named after the location or region where the wine is produced rather than a variety of grapes.

Naming the wine after a region gives an idea of the factors like soil conditions, elevation and the amount of sunshine the region receives. Since the factors impact that taste of grapes, the wine ends up with a unique flavor despite using the same grapes that are found in variety-named items.

While the United States does not commonly follow the rule of naming the wine after a region, some wines are named after the winery that produced the wine and the variety. This helps tell different wines apart despite the similarity in a name.

Naming a wine is primarily about determining whether to use the region or base it on the primary grape variety used to produce the vintage. European wines are most commonly named after the region, but the use of grape variety is a popular naming strategy in the United States. The key to finding a similar wine is looking for the same variety or region in the name.