Judging a wine by its label

As a wine lover, I’m always more interested in what’s inside the bottle, but there’s no denying that first impressions count for a lot.

A good label helps a bottle stand out from the crowd, as well as giving the winemaker a chance to share their brand’s personality with striking visuals.

In fact, the art of wine labels has become such big business over the years that artistssuch as Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol and Tracey Emin have all been commissioned to create them.

My own all-time favourite is Ralph Steadman’s ‘Cardinal Zin’ label for Bonny Doon, in America, although I’m also a huge fan of the bee-themed Vola Vole Passerina, an Italian white that the Bottle Shop stocks.

With the figures clear that an eye-catching designtranslates into sales, I think now is the ideal time to have a look at some of the most iconic wine labels ever designed.

A wooly wonder

Chateau Mouton Rothschild makes some of the most expensive wines in the world, and also pioneered the idea of the artistic wine label. In 1945, founder Baron Philippe de Rothschild came up with the idea of having each year's label designed by a famous artist of the day.

Possibly the most famous of all of these was Salvador Dali, who designed a labelfor the vineyard in 1958. The result was simple but effective; a childlike drawing of a sheep with a nod to Dali’s trademark surrealism.

Image credit: Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Wire work

Less a bottle of wine, more a piece of modern art, in 2008 German artist Rebecca Horn created a stunning design for the Super Tuscan salmanazar Ornellaia’s2008 vintage. The bottle features an intricate design of copper wires, and is a copy of the permanent sculpture created for the winery’s barrel room.

Image credit: Ornellaia

Appealing to the senses

Lazarus Wines was a small winemaker in the Rioja region of Spain, which sadly ceased manufacturing in 2017. Its USP was having its wines produced by blind winemakers, with the idea that their heightened senses made for a superior drink.

In 2008, it produced bottles labelled entirely in braille, which made for an eye-catching and heart-warming nod to its makers.

Image credit: Packaging Design Archive

All aboard

R Wines Boarding PassShiraz is simple but effective. The front label is designed to look like an airline boarding pass, but with information about the wine replacing the travel details and information, while the back features a safety card-style instruction on how to drink wine safely.

What’s more, the label round the top mimics a taped luggage tag, just to add to the sense of adventure!

Image credit: notcot.com

From the classic to the quirky, the arty to the abstract, wine labels have a lot to convey in one small slip of paper, and all are trying to grab you, the customer, with their offering.

And while the art of labels is undeniable, if you’re after more than a pretty picture, why not pop into the Bottle Shop to make a more informed choice?

See our 'Arty' Labels Category