What wine label grabs your attention..? Classic, modern or quirky?

Now that we know what a wine label tells us, it’s still a daunting task to make a selection when we face shelves full of wine…

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Wine lags behind other consumer products in terms of marketing. The label is part of the branding, which suggests the quality, style and heritage of the product. More importantly, a cleverly designed label catches consumers’ attention. However, most wine labels are still confined to traditional designs featuring either the chateau, winery, vineyard or crest. They may communicate history and perhaps quality, but they look very similar and have no differentiation.

One of the many wine labels that caught my eye and I still remember is Finca Piedras Andinas from Argentina. I thought the graphic might have something to do with the name, meaning the house of Andean stones, but this is not the case. The producer explained that it’s just a simple, modern graphic that people can freely interpret. For him, it’s the stem of a wine glass. For me, it’s a chair. And someone else saw it as an abstract image of a grape.

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That is the power of a good label. It stands out from the crowd, invites people to talk about it and very likely gets the bottle picked up and purchased. Some wine professionals dismiss consumers who shop by label, insisting that one should buy wine based on knowledge of regions, grape varieties, styles and producers. But the reality is that there are so many wines on the market and most consumers only have limited wine knowledge. Unless there are salespeople hand-selling the wine, how can the ordinary consumer navigate the kaleidoscopic world of wine?

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Of course, it’s true that the label alone may sell once, but it needs quality to ensure repeat purchases. The label can’t supersede quality as the most important attribute of a wine purchase, but it does help the wine to stand out. What’s more, a good label is not just something arbitrary, dreamed up by a designer who doesn’t know the wine. It’s a bridge between the consumer and the wine, and it should convey the history, story and philosophy of the bottle.

The quirky Smiley label from South Africa exactly reflects the fun-loving and adventurous personalities of the owners. It started off as an experimental blend, but the outstanding quality quickly attracted a loyal following.

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I’m all for choosing by label. At least this encourages consumers to explore wines they haven’t yet tried rather than just sticking with the same few brands they always buy. I admit that I shop by label without feeling ashamed. Don’t hesitate – happy shopping for the labels that appeal to you!

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A marketer turned winemaker, I make, promote, judge, write about and drink wine.

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