This week I am thinking all things wine, OK, this subject isn’t usually too far from my mind, but I have actually been focusing on the labels rather than the elixir within!   It is English Wine Week and so what better time to look at the thing that often sells the bottle to us.  As we all know, it’s very hard not to be seduced by a pretty label.

Wine can be traced all the way back to those innovative ancient Greeks around 4000BC.  The oldest example of something like a label is actually on a clay jar from around this time and simply had the winemakers crest on it. The Greeks believed that wine was a gift from the Gods and I think I might agree with them!

The Egyptians moved things along by inventing papyrus.  A number of jars of wine were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen who died in 1352.  Incredibly the jars had details of the winemaker, vintage, region and grape type on them.

Quite a long time later in the 1700’s, the French monk Pierre Perignon tied pieces of parchment around the necks of his bottles of Champagne.  I do something similar to ensure everyone knows which are mine!

The invention of the Lithographic printing press by Alois Senefelder in the 1780’s was the answer to the need for a more efficient way to identify the various varieties and regions that had emerged as wine production had started to increase.  This revolutionised the production of the labels, the information that could be communicated and allowed brands to emerge.

Today, looking along the shelves of our supermarket or wine shop we see a dizzying array of labels, from classic and refined to garish and colourful, all designed in the hope of catching our eye.  The labels allow winemakers to boast about their wine, it’s awards, provenance and grab our attention.  “For some regions in France, the style of label is based on tradition and, in some cases, this may even extend to the bottle,” explains Amanda Longworth, head of marketing at the Hong Kong office of Berry Bros & Rudd. “Take, for example, wines from the Rhone region of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where a unique coat of arms is embossed on the bottle.  Foiling and embossing are both techniques that are frequently used to add style and impact to a bottle.  Like all sorts of branded packaging, labels can be a way to differentiate yourself and tell your brands story.

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Nittardi in Chianti.  The charming Peter Femfert took label design to a new level by employing a different artist each year to create it.  When asked why, he describes how these labels transform the bottles into works of art themselves and therefore can change the mind of the drinker and give artistic inspiration.  These labels truly are works of art and do also work as a great marketing feature.

At Woodblock, we were approached by Bubble to create label for their Grenache Noir for an event.  The wine is in a beautiful slender black bottle, the front label, which just says ‘Bubble’ is in a strikingly subtle black foil on colorplan ebony black, whilst at the back the text is in a gold foil on colorplan ebony black.  Both labels and text run in a vertical rather than horizontal direction giving even more impact.  We were also asked to create gold foil blocked gift boxes, which were full of luxury handmade chocolates created Bubble to accompany the wine. They were a joy to create!

So much about the personality of a business or product can be communicated through strong branded packaging.  So, the next time you are perusing the aisles, take a moment to consider what the winemaker is trying to tell you and maybe you might even enjoy the quaffing more!