What's in a Wine Label?

As a wine distributor, I am always looking at wine labels to understand how they help in positioning the product they are trying to sell and the target market they are trying to appeal to.

After all, unless they are at a wine tasting, most customers will not have the luxury of trying the wine before purchasing it. So the label is perhaps the most important element of a successful initial sale to a potential customer.

In designing our private label brand FORTY WINKS, we wanted something that was clean, visually simple, and that had an appeal to people new to drinking wines. No Chateau this or that, no coat of arms, and certainly no fancy fonts that hinted of dinner parties in far off castles in Europe.

I think we hit the mark. Our wines, made in the Midwest and Washington state, are purchased by Millennials for the most part and those who are new to wine and want to learn more. And our price points are well below $20 which means they are great for drinking during the week with a simple meal or to take as a gift for the weekend dinner party.

On our winery visit yesterday to San Martin de Valedeiglesias (about 60 miles west of Madrid), we ended up at a small wine bar that features wine made from one of the wineries in the area. We enjoyed tasting a fresh Granacha and a series of bright and crisp white wines fermented primarily in stainless steel with minimal neutral oak. The wines were both delicious and affordable.

More impressive to me was the labeling. We are here to explore possible wine import partners and I have to view the product as a whole. If I purchase the wine, can I sell the wine in the USA for a decent profit after all the expenses that come with importing and distribution overhead?

In the case of the wines we tried, I loved all the labels. They had color and would stand out in a lineup of other wine choices. The visuals had an appeal that both was unusual and reflected the name of the wine but also the town and area from which the wines were made (note the castle motif in the middle bottle above).

The overall look has an appeal that reflects the entire wine brand yet also the individuality of each wine varietal. This kind of branding is hard to do well and something that I am always keenly aware of.

In selling wine, it's not always what's in the bottle. More often, its what's outside of the bottle that makes for the initial purchase. After that, its what's in the bottle and the price point that keep customers coming back!

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