The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Should You Judge a Wine by Its Label?

Posted on | February 4, 2015 | Written by Jessica Catelli | No Comments

Le Pergole Torte labels

Le Pergole Torte labels

A great love of mine is art, in all forms—whether classical or Impressionist, from abstract to contemporary, I’m passionate about it all. Walking through IWM’s showroom, my eyes are always caught by beautiful paintings on wine labels. I find myself pulled in, and not just because it was a bottle of wine. One in particular was filled with color and inspiration, and I instantly needed to know more. It turned out that Montevertine was the producer of these great works. This winemaker brings together some of the most celebrated artists of the day to create wine labels. Hands down to Montevertine for mixing two great loves on earth art and wine.

This description leads me to my topic of choice for writing today. I recently read an NPR article titled “Drinking With Your Eyes: How Wine Labels Trick Us Into Buying,” and I’d have to agree I know that feeling—the overwhelmed or “sucked in” feeling you get when you see something that catches your eyes, gives you a happy sensation, and makes you whip out your wallet. NPR claims wine producers are spending for art to pull in consumers, and there is logic to this. NPR’s Michaeleen Doucleff reported on the effect of wine labels, saying, “Eating and drinking isn’t just about taste, but it’s a combination of all our five senses — smell, touch, vision and even sounds.” I would have to agree we use all these senses when we are interacting with food and drink.

The other day my sister brought home a wine called “Pinot Evil.” If you aren’t familiar with this wine, its label shows three little cute monkeys on it, playing on the commonplace of “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.” It’s a super cute and appealing label with a little underlying message. Pinot Evil isn’t the only winemaker thinking of its graphic design; putting an appealing label on the bottle gives shoppers more of a satisfaction when purchasing the wine, says David Schuemann of CF Napa Brand Design, who has been designing wine packaging for more than a decade.

I know when I see a cool label I definitely walk over to it with a smile, check out the bottle and see what the wine is, but I realize that this response is likely because I’m new to the wine industry. Still, I know enough to be skeptical when making these purchases because I’m aware of what a “trendy label” can mask. That said, I think it’s cool that I am finding my way in such a creative wine era when producers are mindfully using images to sell their products.

While really flashy labels can serve to make the inferior product more appealing, sometimes we can judge the wine by the label when it is really good wine. Montevertine Le Pergole Torte, the label that caught my eye, is a good example. Like Montevertine’s artistic project, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s Vendemmia project does something very similar in working with contemporary artists to create labels for special bottlings of its flagship Ornellaia. I can see how it can become confusing for consumers to purchase a good bottle with an attractive label, so it pays the be “in the know” about different strategies producers are using as well as be a little more patient to read labels and question your local wine shop. Sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover—or a wine by its label—but other times you totally can.



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