Every time I wander up and down the aisles of my local wine store or grocery store, I notice more and more wine bottles that are using inventive labeling. I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but what about judging wine by its label? If you buy a bottle of wine with an inventive label are you simply buying a bottle of wine that was packaged cleverly and doesn’t actually have any taste to merit the purchase? Let’s consider a few things before passing judgment on wine with clever labels.
Drinking With Your Eyes
First of all, if the label caught your eye, you’re that much closer to trying the wine. With food we eat with our eyes first. Nobody wants to eat something that looks like it was already eaten, no matter how good it might be. Since we can’t really drink with our eyes, an interesting label is a great way for a vineyard to catch your attention and predispose you towards liking their wine before the cork is ever opened.
Marketing is Important
The label on a bottle of wine is just like the packaging on anything else you buy. Everybody knows Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes, and we identify that cereal with his image. What’s so different about marketing a wine to associate it with a particular design? When you see the penguin on a bottle of Little Penguin, you know the wine even before you see the name of the winery. Brand recognition is just as important for wine as for anything else.
Letting the Little Guy Compete
When you’re a small vineyard, it can be hard to compete with the Robert Mondavis and Beringers of the world for market share. An interesting or clever label is a great way to grab the attention of a potential drinker by pulling them in with your labeling, and then keeping them coming back with a superior wine.
What’s Wrong With Having a Little Fun?
Maybe the name of the wine or the winery is humorous. Maybe the wine makers just have a really good sense of humor. Wine has long had a reputation as being this very serious thing, so what’s wrong with injecting a little bit of humor and good will into it? Making wine more accessible to your average wine drinker is great. Sure, French wines are good, but how many of us really speak French? But you put a clever joke or funny limerick on a wine label and you’ve got something that will stick out in the mind of your average wine drinker and increase the likelihood of them picking up the bottle.
Never Hurts to Try
Unless a bottle of wine with a clever label costs an exorbitant amount of money, what’s the harm in at least trying it once? At worse, you’re out some money and you don’t ever buy the wine again. At best, you’ve found a bottle of wine that you picked up because the label was interesting and kept buying because it was an enjoyable wine. A clever label can be a talking point at a dinner party, a great way to have fun with somebody as a present, or just something to chuckle to yourself about. If you’re really nervous about buying a bottle of wine with a clever label, read some wine reviews first and then do or don’t buy the wine based on that, not on some preconceived notion that wine with a funny label can’t be good. While a clever wine label won’t make a bottle of wine better, neither will it make it worse.