The use of Varietal Wine Labels in the United States
Labeling a wine by varietal is first and foremost a smart marketing decision. Grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay have literally become name brands. Many wine consumers expect a certain style from these varietals and find these labels quite informative and telling of the bottle’s contents.
The Wente Family is recognized as a pioneer in varietal labeling. They began labeling some of their wines by grape in 1936. It is now an extremely widespread practice in wine regions throughout the New World, and is even catching on to some degree in Europe.
However, this has historically been a foreign concept in the Old World. European wine regions have had centuries to develop blends of different grapes. For example, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon is the classic white blend of Bordeaux. But some grapes, notably Chardonnay, do not take well to blending.
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