What’s in a label?

Posted on: 7th April, 2015

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

You can’t judge a book by the cover. Actually I think you can, but that’s another story! You can definitely tell a good deal about a wine by its label. To start with, I find that an attractive label is often a sign that the wine is of good quality, whereas a cheap label often indicates that the wine is unremarkable. Often, but not always.

The label will tell you first and foremost which country and region the wine comes from, who produced it and with what type of grape or combination of grapes, the vintage year, and the abv (alcohol by volume).

The last bit is important because there is a big difference between the 8 per cent of some German wines and the 15 per cent of some blockbuster Australian examples. Personally, I prefer wines that weigh in around 13 per cent although the lighter or the stronger come into play depending on the food matching.

Perhaps the most complicated indication on the label is the ‘guarantee’ or classification which varies from country to country and which is further complicated because it often changes. For example, in France the most basic category is Vin de France, moving up to Vin de Pays for middle class wines, and AOP which is replacing AC for the highest quality. On German labels there is much, sometimes baffling information about the degree of sweetness of the wine.

wineRicasoli ChiantiIn Italy, the bottom of the pyramid is vino tavola, and the top is DOCG which theoretically indicates super wine. To further simplify, or complicate as the case may be, regions within countries have their own classifications, the most famous being Bordeaux’s classification of 1855 which for the most part still exists to this day. For a final example, when choosing a Chianti, keep in mind the label will indicate whether the wine is cheap and cheerful Chianti DOCG or whether it moves up a grade to the zones of Rufina, Colli, or Senisi, or whether in fact it comes from one of the superior Classico villages such as Radda, Greve or Gaiole.

Personally, I think a wine label, like a good web page, should be un-cluttered. Too much information can be off-putting. One of the worst offences is trying to translate all the information on the label into a number of languages usually resulting in such small printing that it is un-readable.

Finally, wine labels can be fun. For some, collecting wine labels is a hobby. The names on a label can be mischievous and designed to bring a laugh with their play on words, particularly in new world countries. How about Goats do Roam from South Africa, or Chat eu Oeuf?  New Zealand’s Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush? Now that’s going too far!

Chateau Les Violettes Bordeaux, Blaye 2011. Gold medal winner, extraordinary value. Lidl, €9.99. Gorgeous label as well!
Barone Ricasoli Chianti, 2013. Newly arrived in Dunnes, €15. One of my favourite Italian wines, 13 pc – just right!

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
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7th September, 2017  ·  

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