Wine labeling is one of the most critical elements of branding your vineyard. Labels can define your relationship with your audience, as they compare your products to similar alternatives. Of course, the process of creating a wine label encompasses more than just graphic design. You need to ensure that the terms you use to describe your products are approved by the relevant authorities. This, in turn, is complicated by rule differences around the globe.
Dryness and sweetness in America and Europe
Even the most prosaic wine signifiers, such as whether a variety is "dry," can be regulated by federal bodies. Syndicated wine columnist Gus Clemens recently noted that while "dry" and "sweet" aren't carefully defined terms in the U.S., European wine laws control sugar content, making these terms more loaded.
Clemens' posited that truly dry wines are those with fewer than 10 grams of sugar per liter, and that most quality red wines meet this description. In Europe, where there are more specific regulations, red wines will have under 4 grams per liter – a high level of dryness. Of course, whether a palate reads this lack of sugar as a dry flavor has to do with other factors such as fruit flavors and acidity can change perception a great deal.
Region or variety?
Another rule that differs between the U.S. and Europe – and may inadvertently confuse your customers – has to do with varietal naming. Wine Spectator's resident columnist Doctor Vinny specified that consumers are liable to mix up Sauvignon Blanc wines and Sancerres. This is due to European labeling requirements based around a wine's region, which means that producers using Sauvignon Blanc grapes in the Sancerre region of France will simply call their wines Sancerre.
Requirements regarding point of origin and grape varieties are vital studying for any vineyard planning to put a new wine onto the market. While you naturally want to use terms that will send a clear message to consumers about the flavors they can expect and the process that went into making the wine, employing words reserved for other areas could lead to regulatory trouble.
Taking wine labeling in-house
When you've concocted the perfect mix of approved wording and compelling imagery, it's time to print your wine labels. If you truly want to take control of the process, you can add your own label printer instead of always working with outside providers. The Afinia L801 can give you professional quality right on your own premises – look for it in our U.S. store or our Canadian store.