One of the books that I used in preparation for the recent WSET exams was called “Understanding the Label” that explained just that – the theory being that you could get an idea of what the wine would be like before you actually reached for the corkscrew.
The French wine labels I’m now more than familiar with, but I did have to swat up on things German (it was certainly a while since my German ‘O’ Level and I did have to work out a clever way to remember the orders of the levels of wine sweetness in the German system). The chapters on Spanish and Italian labels took a bit of study time as well.
I thought I was now ready to understand most wine labels - however I’m just back from an (unusually) sunny week away in the wilds of North Wales where Welsh is still spoken widely. In fact, when the owner of our campsite first met my wife, who is from Cardiff, he later told my parents that ‘she’s not really Welsh you know’ – it’s all about the “Tafod y Ddraig” after all – this is the “Dragons Tongue”, the emblem of the The Welsh Language Society and not a direct reference to my wife.
There’s a long standing family tradition (I’ve been holidaying here nearly all my life) that Wednesdays there’s a pilgrimage to Pwllhei Market – this time round I noticed a wine shop (Gwin Llyn Wines) – and always keen to try something new, for once, I walked past the French section (it had a good range on my cursory glance) and found the ‘Welsh Wines’ section.
Safe to say, I didn’t fully understand the label but I am looking forward to broaching this one with some ‘local grub’ – I was advised in the shop that it went very well with Welsh Lamb! So, my advice is always keep an eye out for the unexpected – as Oenophiles you really never know when you’ll stumble on your next discovery.
Oddly, if you do visit our Shop here in Mere and you do fancy ordering you wine in Welsh, please do talk with Meirion, our Shop Manager – as a fluent Welsh speaker he’ll be happy to help!