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Jan 28, 2013 11:27 AM

How important are pretty labels?

While spending way to much at Ahlgrens this weekend, the topic came up about labels. One of the other customers asked why they had 2 different labels. Val replied that many restaurants complained that they could not sell because people reacted negatively to 1st label. They came up with the 2nd label which looks more, hmm....professional/industrial. They other customers all said they preferred the old label with signatures and scripting. Val said that in stores, people started buying up the old label stock, thinking that maybe the wine had changed hands. I said that for me, if I had come across both labels in a store, I would feel intimidated by the totally scripted label. My partner husband says the scripted label feels more genuine and like a hand crafted special product, but then he doesn't drink much wine and buys none.

Now I know most of the posters on the site are well versed in reading wine labels, but this is not just for wine semi-pros, but for casual buyers and drinkers. Do you get turned off by certain types of labels. Are you more inclined to buy wines with pictures or artwork? All things being equal, would you be inclined to purchase the first or second label?

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  1. Yes, labels do matter, sad to say.
    Personally I like the cool, older one but could see some of my customers being more comfortable with the newer style.

    I must admit to bringing in a few wines based on their label design since I have a number of folks that shop that way.

    1. As in, does the appearance of the label have any bearing whatsoever on what's in the bottle?


      I've had great wine with very plain-Jane labels, and undrinkable plonk with fancy foiled labels.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Not quite what I meant to ask. If it is a given that the wine is the same and the only difference is the label, would you be more attracted to one or the other?

        1. re: budnball

          If I know the wine is the same, I don't care if the label is handwritten in crayon on a paper towel and scotch-taped to the bottle.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Or like a few I've really liked, no label at all.

            1. re: sunshine842

              I don't want to flog a dead horse, but it still seems to me you haven't addressed the issue -- or, rather, you're addressing an issue that has not been asked.

              >>> I've had great wine with very plain-Jane labels, and undrinkable plonk with fancy foiled labels. <<<

              We have ALL had wines with "plain-Jane" labels that were great, and garbage from bottles sporting "fancy foiled" labels. And, of course, the reverse is also true.

              >>> If I know the wine is the same, I don't care if the label is handwritten in crayon on a paper towel and scotch-taped to the bottle. <<<

              Yes, IF you know the wine is the same. But the posed hypothetical is that you DO NOT know. Ahlgren is a winery you have never heard of, seen, tasted, or experienced. Potential new customers have overwhelmingly preferred the "new" label, EXCEPT if they are actually at the winery itself. In that case, they actually prefer the old(er) one.


              1. re: zin1953

                No, the comment to which I was replying said "if you knew the wine was the same"

                If I know the wine is the same, it implies that I've actually drank that wine at some point in the past, and therefore know it (and since I'm buying it a second time, apparently I liked it) -- therefore a post-it note would suffice as a label.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  OK, let me revert to the ORIGINAL post . . .

          2. Very important. I remember a very similar story about a Scotch company too.

            1. To me, the first label is distinctive and suggests a small, artisanal vineyard - though, in strictness, labelling by hand implies only that only a small number of bottles were produced, and that has no necessary bearing on quality. The second would be inconspicuous on a shelf lined with other bottles.

              It is generally accepted that labels and price affect perceived quality. When I buy, I either know in advance the bottle that I want, or I have something in mind for variety/region/price and then guess between the bottles based on whatever other information is available (alcohol content, technical information, stylistic description, etc). I don't think that labelling would often affect the decision as to which bottle I buy - because I'm conscious that it's irrelevant - but a good label probably goes some way towards improving my expectations before I've opened it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mugen

                which can backfire, too -- you can have this great expectation from the label, only to be upset when you find it's nearly undrinkable...

              2. My wife is certainly influenced. She's not much of a red wine drinker, and she often turns down a drop of proper left bank claret, but a pretty flowered label from Georges Duboeuf turns her into a Beaujolais lover.