WHAT'S in a name? In the case of wine, more importantly, what's on the label?
Consumers sometimes wonder if all the jargon and obscure descriptions on wine labels are devised to keep them ignorant of the secrets of winemaking.
The label on the front of the bottle may encourage you to pick it off the shelf, but it's astonishing how many wineries miss the opportunity to close the deal by providing relevant information on the back.
With the multitude of brands and blends shouting for our attention, you would think winemakers would make better use of the opportunity to interact with and inform their market.
When we tested a variety of light, low-alcohol wines earlier this year, it was surprising to see that only one of the nine listed a kilojoule-per-glass figure on its label. Given that these are mainly targeted at dieters, this would seem an obvious piece of information to include alongside alcohol content.
A recent tasting of Flagstone wines brought the message home, not only because of the strikingly graphic front labels, but the back labels from this Somerset West winery are especially informative. They talk about their farming and wine-making practices – important for today's environmentally-aware consumers.
The description of the wine – "rich dark berries, cigar box and minty aromas" in the case of the Dragon Tree blend – is clear and simple. Best of all, each wine comes with a detailed, mouth-watering food suggestion that adds to the sense of just what the wine is going to deliver.
We sampled a small selection from Flagstone's extensive range, with the Dragon Tree 2010 a real highlight.
It's a roughly equal mix of cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and pinotage, with the last two calming the dryness and tannins of the cab, which in turn adds structure to the complex fruity blend.
Multi-award-winning and with Platter's four stars for "excellent", it's well worth a try at R80 (cellar price), and the suggestion of an accompanying springbok shank with mash and rich plum gravy sounds delicious.
Ostrich with red wine reduction and wild mushroom risotto is recommended for the slightly spicy, musty Poetry merlot 2012, with dark red fruit flavours.
At R48 from the cellar, it's a great buy, as is the 2011 Longitude (shiraz, cab, malbec) which has four Platter stars and at R48 rates as a best value 2013 wine.
Wine trivia for the week: The indent at the bottom of the wine bottle is called a punt.
Reasons for its existence vary – from a historical remnant of the days of hand-blown bottles, to increasing the strength of the bottle, or helping sediment to remain settled at the bottom.
Whatever the reason, at least now you know what it's called.