Wine Talk

Snooth User: WineAnthem

How does a wine label impact your purchasing decision?

Posted by WineAnthem, Feb 9, 2012.

All, We're doing a three part series on the impact of wine labels on branding, image, identity and the consumer's reaction to all of that.  You can see part 1 here:


Part 2 & 3 will feature winemakers and wineries discussing their labeling strategy and part 3 will explore the impact in the retail market of a label, good or bad. 

My question to you: What matters to you about a label?  When it comes to wines you don't know anything about is there something about the label that might get you to choose it when you would not have otherwise?  Please share and let me know if you're okay with us using your quotes or paraphrasing on our part 3 piece.


Clive- The Northwest Wine Anthem.


Reply by JonDerry, Feb 9, 2012.

The wine label is like a prelude to the color of a wine.

Reply by jamessulis, Feb 9, 2012.

The initial appearance of the wine grabs my attention but I then further read the back and if theres a vintnors description of the taste, I read that. If I don't like some of the descriptors of a flavor, it goes back on the shelf. I tend to know what I like and if the description fits my taste buds I'll buy it. If there is no description or the description is an excercise in creative copywriting I don't bother with the babble it also goes back on the shelf. I also take into account Snooth ratings and descriptors and use my Android phone to look up a particular wine while at the store.

Reply by Lucha Vino, Feb 10, 2012.

All kinds of labels will catch my attention: Clean and basic (like Corliss), dramatic (think Sleight of Hand), etched glass is always cool as well as the clear label that simulates etched glass like Kerloo

The front is what will draw you in.  But the back is what will ultimately influence me to make a purchase since this is where the winery will typically include information about the grape varieties, where the grapes were sourced and possibly their barrel regimine.  The more detail on the wine making the more you will get my attention. 

Without these details I am going to rely on a person at the wine shop to help me with recommendations (ok, even with the details I still ask for recommendations).  If I'm at the grocery store i will use my iPhone to look up details on various websites.  With all the information available via your smartphone the label almost serves the single purpose of marketing hook.  It grabs your attention and after that you do your investigation with a person at the shop or via an Internet search.

One thing is for sure, an ugly label is only going to get my attention if it is recommended or on some super steep discount.

This has to be one of the worst wine labels ever.  It looks like it should be on a 40 oz. bottle of beer. The wine is actually a pretty decent California Pinot, but you would never guess that by simply looking at the label.

Reply by CageyT, Feb 13, 2012.

I am getting really tired of cute and trite, gimicky, overly clever labels.  I want real information-- varietal composition, not pathetic and juvenile innuendo, legible provenance and not mystery location mumbo jumbo, and so forth.  I think the label can say as much as a person's clothes...and I don't trust people who jump out at me beeping a little annoying brass horn, dressed up like bozo the clown... or totally undressed. Same for wine.


I am also sick of the back of the bottle personal journals and incoherent ramblings about some notion of self-important revelation.  But I suppose if you have no history to tell, and no new idea to share, then the best you have is a nursery ryhme about bears floating down a river or some such.

Reply by shsim, Feb 14, 2012.

Well thought out, clean cut wine labels definitely catches my eye. All the basic information should be there or on the back label at least, like varietals, vintage, vineyard, AVA etc. I agree with LUCHAVINO, details are important. The details of the label design is also important like font and graphics. Perhaps a person in the field of design can tell you more about the importance of little details like that, which can add elegance to a label. It defines the winemaker because they are likely the ones who decided on the label design. However, wine labels can only go so far as to how good the wine is. I know some people who choose wines according to wine labels and sometimes I do too but it is just a way to get started and sometimes you stumble upon wines you like. Or not.

Reply by karlr, Feb 14, 2012.

I too agree with some of Luchavino's points. No matter what your label looks like, I want to be able to read the varietals, vintage, vineyard, and any of the local control standards, VQA, Appelation d'Origine Controle, QWmP, etc. And the back of the label is not a place to gush forth with self promoting bable. Keep it to a few meal pairings, tempature, and storing recommendations 3-5 years from bottling date... which now means give us the bottling date.

As for the marketing power of the lable. Keep it clean simple, easily recognized, such as Maetierra Dominvm QP Rioja, or 13th Street Winery. They are modern and clean, although they put key info on the back label. If you use a classic label, keep it to something like Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Grand Veneur, and for the love of God, if you put Chateau in your name, be from France. You could have a fantasic wine, but it you try to be something you are not, it's the fastest way to get put back.

Reply by Ifeanyichukwu, Feb 15, 2012.

I may not really be contributing to the topic but i guess I can still get an audience that will respond to my enquiry here.

I am Nigerian entrepreneur. I am interested in the wine trade. A lot of Nigerians are drinking wine as part of an emerging culture. Most of the wines in Nigeria come from France, Italy,Spain and recently from South Africa. I have been informed that wines from the maldives are very good and that I should start importing from there. The Nigerian market is growing by the day and holds tremendous potentials. How good are the wines from the maldives? Which ones are the best and who  or which winery or sellers will be my best contact.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 15, 2012.

I would be very dubious of anyone selling you wine from the Maldives. That whole country is a bunch of coral atolls only a very few feet above sea level. It also has an Islamic government that tries to keep tourist business contained away from its citizens' daily commercial and social lives in ways that make me think it would be difficult to support viticulture (if such were even possible), much less winemaking. Lots of restrictions just on wine importing there, so prices at resorts are extremely high.

I'd stick with those other countries, and if you want to branch out look to the eastern end of the Indian Ocean and Australia...

Reply by jsncruz, Feb 17, 2012.

I have bought wines based on how much I liked the label. For me, as long as the information I need are there clearly and cleanly and looks good, it's definitely a plus. I've purchased Wolf Blass Eaglehawk and Double Bay wines for this exact reason.

It does affect consumer choices, sometimes :)

Reply by outthere, Feb 18, 2012.

The label is just window dressing. What matters is what's inside the bottle. My purchases are based on what I taste and what my personal preferneces are. I rarely buy something I have not first tasted and when I do it is usually because someone else, whose palate aligns with mine, has had good experiences with the particular wine.

I'm a marketers nightmare.

Reply by Odile53, Feb 19, 2012.

Sometimes I buy wine by region:  Recently I decided to sample the local offerings, so I check by that parameter.  

As far as the label design is concerned, I like an elegant-looking label.  Putting a cartoonish character on the piece of paper is probably going to lead my eye elsewhere.  

As far as the taste components of the wine are concerned, I have to be realistic:  I'm a smoker, and probably have destroyed more taste buds than still exist.  So the froufrou breakdowns of taste are pretty much lost on me.  Since I've never gone and licked an oak barrel I don't even know what "heavily oaked" is supposed to taste like!  

Basically, I just go into the wine or liquor store, decide on a theme (right now, local offerings,) decide on a color of wine (we all know what that means,) and pick out something that suits my budget on that particular day.  I do, however, look at the "ratings," and pick out one that is rated at over 90, if I find that I can afford it on that particular day.

I keep brief notes on various wines that I've purchased, and what I've liked, and what not so much.  

Hey, it's wine:  A couple of thoughts pop into my head, despite the protestations of the oeinophiles:  1) The supreme court justice who said that he didn't know what obscenity was, but he knew it when he saw it, and 2) the words of St. Augustine, which basically said that in matters of taste, there is no standard.

So, buy and drink what you like.  Even if it's something like Ripple!

Reply by EMark, Feb 20, 2012.

Odile, I admire your well-adjusted attitude.  Very pragmatic and very useful.  Спасибо.

I do have one question, though, and maybe I'm not that bright.  What does the color of wine mean? ;-)

Reply by jsncruz, Feb 21, 2012.

I think he meant red or white?

Reply by dmcker, Feb 22, 2012.

Obviously an important aspect of a label is the wine's name, no matter the font it's presented in. From an interesting article I just saw on the value of a wine's name:

"In a recent psychological study, researchers at Brock University in Niagara found that people were willing to pay an average of $2 more for a wine based purely on the sound of its name. Specifically, they tended to favour a tongue-twisting brand versus one they could more easily pronounce. The findings suggest that unfamiliar or exotic sounds imply scarcity, and that’s an attribute frequently associated with quality in the highly impressionable minds of wine shoppers."

So does that mean that the wine in 2BuckChuck is basically worth nothing?  ;-)

Reply by EMark, Feb 22, 2012.

Intuitively, the results of the Brock University study make sense.  With the possible exception of the southeast, I'll bet that most people in the U.S. will pay more in a restaurant for polenta than they will for grits.

The question that Dm poses, however, is difficult.  Not sure I can work that one out.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 22, 2012.

Good analogy, Mark. I've often pondered on that, myself--also on how recipes between Italy and Alabama can be so very different....

Reply by EMark, Feb 25, 2012.

OK, Dm, after considering your question (So does that mean that the wine in 2BuckChuck is basically worth nothing?) for a couple days, I think I have an (if not the) answer.

On first reading I considered it to be an economic question.  I, generally, try not to go with my first, gut, response so I wondered if it was philosophical or metaphysical.

I now am going back to my belief that it is economic.

The anwer to your question is "No." 

I can sell the empty Charles Shaw (AKA Two Buck Chuck) bottle (with the original label) on EBay.  If some unscrupulous buyer wins the bidding, refills the empty bottle with other wine and resells it as genuine Charles Shaw wine, then I can accept the proceeds of the auction and still have plausible deniability about any wine counterfeiting.

Reply by dmcker, Feb 25, 2012.

A consideration worthy of many in the Shanghai outskirts, substituting a dead Lafite soldier for the Chuck, of course!  ;-)

Reply by Richard Foxall, Feb 27, 2012.

Hey, I found a great use for Charles Shaw:  I went into my nearest TJs a couple weeks ago and they had stacked some cases as a base for a table they were using to display Valentine's Day baked goods.  They were pretty sturdy and the boxes created a nice, flat surface to put the table top on.

Reply by missredmini, Feb 28, 2012.

A good wine label doesn't influence my decision, but it will get my attention first.

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