A few hundred years ago, what wine was usually NOT labeled with a paper label?

A. Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon

B. Madeira

C. Champagne

D. Chianti Classico


Several hundred years ago, many bottles of vintage Madeira were stenciled, rather than labeled with a paper label. The stenciling was done by hand by older women in the Madeira producers’ lodges. Stenciling was common because the island of Madeira (which is off the African coast) was so poor and isolated, shipments of (expensive) paper from the mainland could not be depended upon. Moreover, paper labels, prone to disintegrate with time or moisture, were less than ideal in Madeira’s humid climate. And when wine was transported, as Madeira was, on sailing ships, paper labels could be easily damaged by water. Stenciling— usually with white paint— was the answer. Today, for aesthetics rather than out of necessity, many of the very top, old Madeiras continue to be stenciled rather than labeled with a paper label.

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