Home > wine fun, Wine Labels > Labels and Beyond – Creativity in the Wine World

Labels and Beyond – Creativity in the Wine World

There is a famous Russian saying  – “meet by the clothes, part by the smarts”. Yes, I know I’m butchering the original with this translation, and typical proper analogy in English will be “Don’t judge the book by its cover” – but I wanted to emphasize that “meet by the clothes” part.

In the world of people, our first impression of the stranger is often directly related to the way the person is dressed – however, once we get into the conversation and get to know the person, the dress becomes of no importance at all – if, of course, we manage to find common ground and enjoy each other’s company. More often than not, we use clothes as a differentiator – this is our way to stand out from the crowd and get noticed – and I’m sure you all can attest – that generally works; clothes matter, especially for the first impression.

This is the wine blog, right? So let’s get to it. What are the “clothes” for wine? The bottle and the label, isn’t it? We, wine drinkers collective, are often very quick to make serious assumptions about the content of the bottle just from a quick glance at the bottle. Ahh, a cute creature? The wine must be cheap and terrible. Look at how solid this heavy bottle with black and gold label is – I’m sure the wine will be delicious. Been there, done that.

The wine today is at a pick of popularity – for sure in the US. Which means that there is more and more wine produced all the time, to the pleasure of a wine drinking public. But here also lies a flip of the silver lining – looking at the wine store shelves is overwhelming, so how can producers ensure that someone will pick the bottle of their wine? This is where the “clothes” come to the play – all other things been equal, the label and the bottle are the only differentiators winemaker got (the brand recognition of course will be superior to the label differentiators, but we should put it aside for the sake of this post). What I’m observing lately is an explosion in creativity in the wine labels, names of the wines and even the bottle shapes (or overall packaging, such as “wine in the can”). And this is what prompted this post – over the month, I came across a few wines which I felt I just wanted to share with all of you.

Here is the first one – Honoro Vera Grenache. When I saw the bottle, it was an instant “wow, that looks beautiful” – I must try it. The fact that it was Spanish Grenache (hard to go wrong with), priced at $7.99, make that decision even easier. And the wine didn’t disappoint with fresh core of the dark fruit and mocha – round and delicious.

The love of the next label might be giving away my age – but this “post card formatting” somehow always attracts my attention, as the nod to the times when people actually used paper and their hands to write, and not only to type. One look at the bottle and I knew I had to get this Bob’s Pinotage from South Africa – and of course at $6.99, the risk was minor. Pinotage used to have a lot of bad rap in the past, but this wine was delicious – fresh strawberries, hint of gaminess, medium to full body, good balance – excellent food friendly wine.

How about the label which takes guessing out of the wine enjoyment? The label on this Rosé La Princess from Provence will change when the wine will be chilled to the suggested drinking temperature, and will definitely encourage you to drink it. One would’ve thought that this is too gimmicky (and I did), and to my delight, I found classic, gentle, strawberry driven, perfectly refreshing wine in this bottle. All for $11.99.

We all know that wine and flowers make perfect gift for anyone. How about the wine which essentially includes flowers? How I mean, you ask? Take a look below – this Côte des Roses bottle features the bottom which looks like a perfect Rose flower. Going all the way, take a look at the pink glass enclosure – isn’t it beautiful? And the best part is that wine itself is a beautiful Rosé – restrained, delicate, tart and refreshing. And despite the overindulgent bottle, the wine retails for the same $11.99 – a great value for Rosé if you ask me.

Let me finish this labels galore with a series belonging to the wine called Machete Red. This wine is produced by the legendary Dave Phinney, and each case sports 12 bottles with 12 different labels  – from the same theme. I didn’t have an opportunity to taste this wine, and it retails for quite a bit more than any of the wines I mentioned before ($45.99), so in this particular case I can’t tell you if content of the bottle matches the creativity on outside – but I surely hope it does.

Machete Red

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That’s all I have for you for today. What are your creative label discoveries? Cheers!

  1. May 28, 2016 at 10:12 am

    I love wine labels and will very often purchase the wine simply because I love the label. I sent a bottle of the Machete to my secret wino santa. Hope it was good I haven’t tasted it but thought the label was very cool and the fact that they are all different.

    • talkavino
      May 28, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Too bad I was not on your list 🙂 I will need to try it one day. But the labels nowadays are nothing short of amazing.

  2. May 28, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    One of the first things I learned from winemakers was that labels and price were the two main factors in a consumers first purchase of a wine. Future purchases were based on the wine but that first blind decision was all emotion. A great label will sell more wine especially if it isn’t that special.

    • talkavino
      May 29, 2016 at 2:11 am

      Yep – labels work perfectly if not on all of us, for sure on the majority of us, oenophiles.

  3. May 28, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    I’m guilty. Often pick by the labels…
    but at least it keeps me trying new ones!

    • talkavino
      May 29, 2016 at 2:12 am

      I’m guilty in exact same way! I always pay attention to the labels.

  4. May 29, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Great piece! You featured one of my clients, Bob! I shared it with him. But back to your piece, what I like is the evolution of better packaging on less expensive wines. That is a really wonderful shift in the market!

    • talkavino
      May 29, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      Thanks Rashida! That wine was outstanding, I really enjoyed it on all levels – both the label and the wine itself. Yes, there is definitely an unlimited creative opportunity for the winemakers today, without the need to “break the bank”.

  5. May 29, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Love your post, great subject matter – interesting how the cheaper wines take creative risks to grab your attention. Loved the postcard too because it is so clever. I’ve seen that rosé bottle as well – incredibly impressive. It takes bucks to create a bottle like that, so I imagine the juice is as good as anything in the $10-$20 range and you are really paying for the packaging. C’est la vie! Xo

    • talkavino
      May 29, 2016 at 6:35 pm

      Thanks Loie. For the inexpensive wines, stunning labels might be a critical differentiator, more of a need. For the expensive wines, this is often part of the philosophy – think of Sine Qua Non, Mouton Rothschild or Chateau St. Michelle Artist Series. In any case, it is amazing how modern technology allows producers to be creative, no matter if the wine costs $10 or a $1000.

  1. September 18, 2017 at 8:39 am
  2. April 24, 2020 at 5:15 pm

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