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Would you choose a wine purely based on the design of its wine label?

Wine label designs are an incredibly important marketing tool for catching your attention and enticing you to buy a particular bottle of wine.

However, it is extremely difficult for anyone to choose a bottle of wine simply based on the wine label.  If you know a bit about wine you may be more interested in the supplementary information on the label such as the name of the winery, the wine region, the vintage, the aging, or the grape varieties used to create the wine (this is not always clear though).  But, for the untrained eye, how do you separate a great wine from a failure?

Labels are there to inform you, as well as attract your attention, but if you are in your local wine shop and you have more than 300 bottles of wine in front of you, the information overload can cause you some serious ‘brain ache’...

French Bordeaux wine labels, each featuring a château

There are many tricks of the trade to make you believe you are buying good wine. 

For example, many French Bordeaux wine labels feature a Château on them. 

However, that does not necessarily mean all French Bordeaux wines with a picture of a Château on the label are of great quality. 

On another note, wine label design styles from the Burgundy region (with simple clear colours and stylish fonts) are imitated all over the world.  One example is a Canarian wine that has a wine label design reminiscent of a Burgundy wine.  This particular wine also happens to be the highest-ranked Canarian wine, with 96 Parker points.

When it comes to Spanish wine in general, there has been a wine label design explosion!  There appear to be no particular styles or rules and anything seems to go.  This can create a lot of confusion and a false sense that "if it has a great label it must be a good wine".  Unfortunately, the only way to find out whether the wine is good is to open the bottle and taste it.

Bicycles and fish on wine labels

In all the time we have been working with wines we have seen so many different scenarios.

Ugly looking labels on fantastic bottles of wines; ostentatious wine labels with images of Châteaux that then prove to be a very disappointing red wine; an artistic representation where the winery may have paid more for the work of art on the label than it costs to make the wine; as well as huge marketing and advertising campaigns that focus on a particular wine label design. 

At the moment, the trend appears to be the use of bicycles on wine labels, who knows why…In the next few years, another trend will appear.

So, how should you decide which wine to choose?

Here is a little advice on how to find a wine to suit your tastes:

Ribas, 'Desconfío de la gente que no bebe tinto' wine label

1. It always pays to do some research first and not rush your decision, particularly if you are planning to buy wine in bulk.

2.   Choose a bottle of wine with a wine label that looks enticing to you but then choose others at a similar price, from the same area, vintage, grapes, etc. You will then get a better idea of the type of wine made in that particular region.

3. The price-to-quality relation is usually correct.  If a bottle of wine has a great wine label but it only costs 2€ more money has likely been spent on design rather than production.  Leave it on the shelf!

4.  Speak to the person behind the counter in your local wine shop or get to know the staff in your local wine bar.  It is extremely likely they will have tried the wine you are considering so they can properly advise you.  Staff in your local bar will generally get a feel for your taste if you go there often enough, so they can also steer you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a new wine.

5. Just for fun, do a blind wine tasting and pit wines with great-looking labels against other wines with similar characteristics.  This can open up your senses to wines you wouldn't normally choose to buy.

Whilst the design of a wine label is incredibly important, don’t be fooled by them.  Be curious and take time to study the smaller details instead.  There are some amazing wines out there but the wine label should not be the only thing that sways your decision when trying something new.

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