Tips for Reading French Labels

(Originally published November 1999)

Many of you swillers of the fruits of the vine are quite familiar with the French way of labeling, in particular the usage of the words Château or Domaine to indicate the winery/vineyard name (e.g., Château Lagrange). However, there are other little words that indicate more or less the same useless information and you, my loyal follower, should be aware of them. For example, the words "Mas de/des" simply means farm or farmhouse (especially au Provence). So, in the label "Mas des Bressades" the real name is Bressades. Don't think that "Mas" means a region or a particular winery. Same shit with "Clos de/des" -- it just means vineyard. So, in the label "Clos René" it just means René's vineyard. Learning and remembering stuff like this will make you look less like a dork in a store or restaurant.