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Wine labels can be pretty confusing to read if you don't know what everything means. It gets even more frustrating when you discover that wine labels are not universally structured and that different countries will have very different looking labels. Instead of staring at the bottle for twenty minutes, afraid to show your lack of knowledge while blocking the aisle of your favorite wine merchant, check this simple reference guide out so you can get through that store quicker. The sooner you buy it, the sooner you can drink it.
Wine labels have a ton of information, including the name of the vineyard and the winemaker, where the wine was bottled and whether or not it was made from old vines. Napa Valley Vintners, a regional trade group in California, founded in 1944 with over 350 wineries as members, says the vintage is optional, which states the year that the grapes were harvested.
According to Will Lyons, who has been writing a weekly wine column for The Wall Street Journal since 2009, most wines are bottled to be enjoyed within five years of the vintage date. If you have fine wine on your hands though, you can cellar those bottles for up to 20 years to get more mature, complex flavors.