Wine labeling is a high-stakes game. Browsing customers come face-to-face with wine bottles, and vineyards' trademark imagery, right before they make a decision. Vineyards aren't the kind to splash cash on huge TV campaigns the way beer brands still do, and they don't have the same rebel cachet as craft brewers.
A wine label hoping to make a connection with customers must be impeccably designed, as it will likely be competing against a whole shelf of brands hoping to accomplish the same feat. This importance means that it is worthwhile for winemakers to spend time considering their options for label effectiveness. Should imagery or text dominate? Should messages on bottles be simple or complicated?
Simplicity returns in Germany
According to Wine-Searcher, vineyards in Germany have traditionally put long, complicated descriptions of wine varieties on their labels, using terms that might not mean anything to international – or even domestic – buyers. That pattern has changed in recent years, with modern, minimalist styles winning over shoppers. The wineries operating today are the same ones that have existed for ages, but they have taken a new approach to the way they promote their products.
Wine-Searcher noted that simplicity sells to the millennial market. People are interested in spending mere seconds figuring out what type of grape a wine comes from, and what kind of characteristics it has – dry, low sugar, and so on. Using inside-baseball terms or dwelling on the location of the vineyard may seem like a better way to broadcast quality, but this extra info may just muddy the waters.
When verbosity works
Of course, for every example, there is a counterexample. The back panel of wine may benefit from the addition of a vineyard's story. The Drinks Business reported that when people feel a connection with a brand, they may keep buying from that producer. The bond is formed after the first purchase, when an individual has a bottle at home and is pouring from it.
Copy on the back label could make a good impression at that moment – especially if it's filled with specifics and emotionally charged. If vineyards write redundant statements or ones that don't differentiate their products, they've essentially wasted that space. The Drinks Business noted that vintners should focus on unique elements, rather than generic ingredient properties or claims that apply to dozens of other brands, too.