Words on French Wine Labels

From French Wine For Dummies®

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Appellation… Contrôlèe (AOC): The word(s) appearing between these two words on the label indicate the official place-name of the wine, the location where the grapes grew.

Blanc de blancs ("white from whites"): A white wine made from white grapes only. In particular, Champagne made exclusively with Chardonnay grapes.

Blanc: White

Brut: A dry sparkling wine

Château: A wine estate

Crèmant: An AOC sparkling French wine from some region other than Champagne.

Cru: A vineyard, a village, or sometimes a wine estate

Cuvée: A blend of wines, or a particular batch of wine

Domaine: Wine estate, usually a smaller property than a Château.

Extra Dry: A sparkling wine that's slightly sweeter than brut

Grand cru classè: A wine estate that has officially been classified as a top property

Grand cru: A region's highest quality vineyard or vineyard area

Grand vin: A winery's best wine

Millèsime: Vintage (year of the harvest)

Mis en bouteille au château: Estate-bottled

Premier cru: A top vineyard area or wine estate, but less prestigious than a grand cru

Reserve: Suggests a better-quality wine, but it's an unregulated term that anyone can use for any wine.

Rouge: Red

Sec: Dry

Vielles vignes: Old vines, suggests better quality, but it's an unregulated term.

Vins Délimités de Qualité Supérieure (VDQS): A place-name wine that's less prestigious than an Appellation… Contrôlèe wine

Vin de Pays: A French country wine; the words following this phrase on the label indicate the zone where the grapes grew.


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