Red wine Folly describes that the very first thing customers require to understand is that “reserve” isn’t a regulated term on U.S. red wine labels, which indicates that in a legal sense, the term is basically useless. The issue, Vine Pair explains, is that casual wine drinkers (that’s the majority of us) presume that “reserve” on a label means it’s more unique, a red wine that might have been aged longer or might come from a special parcel of a vineyard.
Vine Pair offers up an example: Kendall-Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, which the winery promotes as “America’s # 1 selling Chardonnay for thirty years and counting.” The issue? Vine Pair explains that K-J’s Reserve Chardonnay is the most affordable tier of red wine the winery produces. It’s a reserve in name just.
Some wineries do use the word “reserve” in a meaningful way, to designate small lots of wine, often even specific barrels that have been picked due to the fact that they’re distinctly delicious, like Storybook Mountain Vineyards Estate Reserve Zinfandel. Others may age reserve wines longer or utilize grapes from a small parcel, like Robert Keenan’s Merlot Reserve, Mail Box Vineyard, which comes from a single, 11-acre vineyard. The point is, however, that “reserve” can either suggest a whole lot, or absolutely nothing at all. You need to dig a little if you want to know if “reserve” is truly unique or if it’s an empty marketing term.
To make things a bit simpler, that’s not the case for red wines from 2 nations.