Sunday, 24 June 2018

A Plea for Vintage Dates and Batch Numbers on Labels

I spend a great deal of money on Sherry and the wines and spirits of Cádiz. It is my passion, my hobby and my job, so I don’t mind at all, and I could happily drink most of them forever. But for the purposes of the blog, I am constantly looking for something I haven’t tried before, and this can be a problem. While on one hand it is a pleasure to revisit a wine further along its evolutionary path, (and I often do), on the other it can work out very expensive to buy the same wine more than once.

Avoiding this should be simple; I have a note of every wine tasted for the blog, but at the point of purchase it is often very hard to identify a wine’s vintage or batch as it is simply not on the label. It can sometimes be gleaned from lot numbers – which come in various forms and are not always clear - occasionally from different alcoholic strengths, sometimes laser-etched dates on the bottle, or even written in ink on the bottle’s side or its punt, or as a last resort, on the cork - but you have to buy the bottle first. The wine merchant just might know, possibly from the packing case, but if not, it will be difficult to rotate stock and it just becomes a lottery.

While it is only a minor problem - though extremely annoying - it could lead to members of the public buying wines which are past their best, or which have not yet reached it. They might dislike them and never buy them again, doing no good to the bodega’s sales and reputation. Obviously it costs money to print new labels every year – especially for the many small producers - but really not a great deal – and back labels can easily be overprinted with suitable numbers. It really is in everybody’s interest for some sort of intelligible information to be printed on the label, and I urge producers to do so.

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