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Wine Labels 101

A couple of weeks back, we posted an article on beer labels. After some thought and some prodding from readers, we thought it might be nice to do the same for wine. Wine and beer, like their labels, hail from completely different traditions. But they do have similarities. For one, the labels on both beer and wine bottles play a huge role in how the customer perceives the product and decides what to buy. Designing a great label is a priority for drumming up interest… and sales.

In wine, however, the stakes are a bit higher than beer because the price of a bottle ranges from two-buck chuck to, well, around $150K by our last estimate. The right design on your label can convince people to spend a bit more on the bottle, and some argue that a nice label even makes people enjoy the wine more. It’s crazy what design can do to us!

So what will your wine look like? Whether it’s a gift wine label for a wedding, or a run of many thousands, let’s dive in to the basics of wine label design.

What type of label is best for your wine?

Generally speaking, there are four broad categories that most wine label designs fall into:


Traditional wine labels, like the one above, communicate a long tradition of wine making. They generally feature a line drawing of the estate where the wine originates, use a serif or cursive font, have a small amount of color (often red) and a background of cream, white, or grey. Wines from traditional wine growing areas in France, Italy and Spain often use these designs.

Fun & Funny

The fun category of wine labeling is generally attributed to lower priced wines from the new world – California, Australia, Argentina, Chile — though some European (especially French) vineyards use these designs as well. These labels feature animated drawings, handwritten type, splashes of color and often have funny names or references.

Bold & Modern

Bold and modern labels adorn a variety of wines from South America, South Africa, Australia, North America and some European wine. Arguably the most common type of wine label, these feature bold colors, sans serif fonts, bold art (often a modern take on the estate drawing) and other modern design elements. These labels are sometimes printed directly on the bottle, like the one above.

Contemporary Classic

The contemporary classic label combines elements of the traditional label and the modern label. It riffs on the classic design with its serif fonts, line drawings, and cream background and runs with it. It might involve bold colors, graphics or other design elements, but there’s a traditional bent to the whole thing that shows the vineyard’s relationship to classic wine varieties.

Who’s Drinking?

With these four label categories in mind, the next step is to consider your customer. Who is your wine for? A connoisseur of fine wines, a weekend drinker who likes to share a bottle with friends, a socialite who uses wine for the image, or someone who is looking for value and simplicity? A 2008 study identified six types of wine drinkers, from “enthusiast” to “overwhelmed.” It might be useful to reference their findings when you’re honing your sales pitch and brand identity. It’s easy to see how different types of labels (mentioned above) can correspond to different types of consumers. Indeed, design is all about interfacing your brand identity with the people who are most likely to want to buy your product — so that it calls out to them from a very crowded shelf.

One Last Thing: The Blurb

The blurb on the back of the wine bottle – you know the one. It tells you how the estate came to be, it describes the wine’s taste in detail, and it suggests pairings for the wine — in short, it tells the wine’s story. Don’t overlook the value of this blurb. It can mean the difference between someone trying your wine once, and someone becoming a loyal customer. As Neil Tully, a wine label design expert explains, the blurb is what the customer reads at home, at the dinner table, while drinking the wine. If it resonates, then the wine will stay in his or her mind, and make the whole experience more memorable.

So let’s get started with a beautiful, unique design for a wine that draws eyes to your label and gives consumers something to write home about! Remember that when it comes to printing custom wine labels, Leapin’ Lizard can be counted on to deliver perfect labels, and quickly. Give us a call and we’ll discuss the options!

Bottoms up!





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