Your Resource For
Wine Region Travel
Frequently Asked Questions About Wine, Wine Tasting,
and Travel in the Wine Regions

What is all the information on the label of the wine bottle?

The following information should be on every wine label, for wine made in the U.S.:
• Winery name
• Wine varietal, or brand name: Wineries are only allowed to use the name of the varietal – chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah , if 75% or more of the wine is from that variety of grape. Blending of grapes is still done. For example, a cabernet sauvignon may have 75% or more of cabernet sauvignon, but also contain some merlot, cabernet franc, malbec or petit verdot. (All grapes that originate in the Bordeaux region of France.) But the total contribution of the non-cabernet sauvignon grapes cannot exceed 25% of the wine. Many wineries have started making wines from blends of grapes varietals; there are no restrictions on the names for these blends.
• Alcohol content: percentage of alcohol by volume in the wine.
• Growing region: sometimes called appellation or AVA (American Viticultural Area). This lets you know where the grapes were grown. At least 85% of the grapes have to come from a specific region for that region to be listed on the label. This could be as large an area as California, or perhaps a county, or as small as a specific growing region in the Napa Valley, such as the Howell Mountain AVA. AVAs can exist within other AVAs, as the Howell Mountain AVA exists within the Napa Valley AVA.
• Year: This is the year the grapes were picked, not the year the wine was released for sale.
• Other information could include "Estate Bottled", meaning that all the grapes in that bottle were grown in vineyards owned by the winery. “Reserve” or “Select” means that this is a special wine from the winery. (Sometimes this is just marketing speak for a higher price point, sometimes it actually means something.) If all the grapes come from a single vineyard, the name of that vineyard could also be listed.

How many wineries should we plan to go to in one day?

How much time should you plan on for each winery?

Should we drive ourselves around the wine regions or rent a limo?

Are there any rules of etiquette that are unique to tasting rooms?

Is it OK to wear perfume or cologne when going wine tasting?

Do white wines come from white grapes, and red wine from red grapes? Is the juice a different color from each grape? What about Rosé?

Why should wine be decanted?

Why do you swirl the wine?

In a tasting room, white wines are usually tasted first, followed by the reds, and finally any dessert wines. Why this order?

What about other items in the tasting room, such as crackers, water and wine buckets? What are they for?

Should you taste all the wines being offered at a tasting room?

How should I choose wine at a restaurant?

How should open wine be stored?

How do I ship home the wine that I purchased while traveling?

What is a fortified wine? Where did they come from?