Has the label got anything to do with the quality?
Posted on May 03, 2017
Has the label got anything to do with the quality of the wine?
This very question has probably been asked a million times. Certainly not restricted to wine products only - but covering almost every product imaginable that comes dressed (or disguised) in some form of packaging. We can also answer that question quite straight out in terms of some other products... but that’s not what this is all about, today I am referring to wine! Wine bottles, labels, neck tags, cases, sleeves, boxes, blankets, tins and whatever else you find them in! Please keep in mind that this is based on choosing a wine without having the opportunity to taste it first.
Perhaps it’s more of a “female thing” but we do tend to shop by the looks of things don’t we? And if I may say, we are rather gifted with a pretty good instinct on things in general and thus I won’t disbelieve that we have invisible radar and an additional sense if you like, when it comes to judging something by the packaging. Our taste may differ and thus we choose differently, but the point is we feel about the looks of something and judge how we feel all the time whilst exercising our retail duties. Fair to say that marketing gurus throughout the world will forever continue their quest in this challenge.
In my opinion of wine labels, I have a few standard rules. If the label is too blingy, and by that I mean drizzled in gold or silver foiling, or so shiny that I have to squint my eyes, it’s a no. If it’s luminous, overly colourful or film wrapped in a design my teenager would wear to a rave, then no. If I can see the wine through the bottle and the colour doesn’t represent the kind of wine, then no too. A plastic bottle, a 5lt box, a pap-sak or “kannetjie” – these are by oath of my own certified no’s. A label that’s given the wine or the wine estate very little honour is also not welcome in my shopping trolley. These are in my opinion things that have escaped a laboratory, and not likely from any reputable estate at all.
Those that crack a yes would ideally need to be good looking enough in terms of my vinous expectations. Clean, stately, creative designs that speak to me. Bold labels that clearly have thought inspired insignia or imagery that appeals to the eye are more likely to be considered contenders as opposed to those dressed out of a costume shop. “Sticker labels” as I call them, the ones that have absolutely no character at all – and state “sweet red” should be found in the savoury sauces isle instead, so that you can find a wine worth cooking with. Wines with symbolic emblems, logos or crests tend have me believe they come from somewhere where the estate is proud enough to put their “stamp” on it – and I like those.
If I have chosen to lift the bottle off its position and look a little further, then the back label will be my next area of scrutiny. The way an estate describes their wine or often the short snippet about themselves is what really seals the deal. You really needn’t be a connoisseur to know when it’s a seductive waffle or a statement of pride. And based on this, and along with a brief consideration of the price for what I’ve just analysed is how I will then decide whether to purchase it or not.
But the burning question of whether the label has anything
to do with the quality of wine remains an unanswered mystery. Yes and no is the
safest (and most accurate) answer. Some estates who have earned the right to
calling their wines premium, select, exclusive, etc and thus believe in packaging their quality wines at any cost to ensure that
their prize products look as good they are in public too. Reputable estates
know that their products are an extension of their brand and thus they pull out
all the stops in the packaging wardrobe. But sadly this is also how the public perceives
a good wine, (dressed to the hilt) yet this is not always the case. There are unfortunately
those (dodgy) wines out there that fight for their rights in the market place,
and when the wine is not really anything to rave about the label will have you
convinced otherwise. (Only before consumption that is) This is tragically what
some marketers are paid to do.
So in conclusion, this article has probably left you with more questions than answers, and for that I truly apologise. The truth is that wine always has been and always will be a tricky commodity to judge – when you’re not in a tasting room or able to taste it first. Therefore, interesting and surprising it will remain and that’s partly responsible for the kicks we get when choosing a new wine. Thus without giving you any conclusive answer on the matter of packaging vs. quality, I can only give you tips on how to evaluate whether the label does the wine justice (vice versa) or not.
Make a fair and thoughtful judgment of the front label first – and if it relates to your search (depending on what sort of wine you’re looking for at the time) then turn it around and read the back label next. You’ve most likely got your cell phone on you when doing this, so there’s nothing stopping you from doing a quick Google search about the producer or the wine itself. (There are even some nifty apps for selecting wines)
The conclusion of your judgement and consideration of the price will pretty much achieve your decision. From here on its take it home and try it! Learn from your successes and never again buy your failures!
CHEERS to your choice and may it be a good one!
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