Tuesday, July 19, 2011

winsome wine designs

I have an unfulfilled desire to design wine labels. I'm quite fascinated by them. Every time I'm in a wine shop or even my local grocery store I have to wander through looking at each one. It seems like there is just so much variety these days. At last! Wine itself is a bit of an off-putting beverage, conjuring images of snotty french folk and bored, unfulfilled housewives. I think the average person might pass up a bottle with a swirly scripted European name and a drawing of a stereotypical french farm thinking it's "just too fancy for someone like me". Can't say I blame them. The whole purpose of design is to tell you about the product, not just tell who you want to consume it. Wines are tricky enough anyway. It takes a bit of education on the subject to tell the many varietals apart just by looking at the bottle, let alone learn which types you prefer the taste of. Different vintages, ages, and growing regions affect even the bottles sold under the same name. So how is one supposed to remember one wine from another? Have no fear! Clever design is here! Here are some examples of ones that I found in my local grocery store:
First weapon in the label designs arsenal: wow factor. These labels are somehow printed directly onto the bottle with a variegated texture that feels like the stone walls that the label represents. In addition to having a tactile texture that actually makes you want to pick it up, each varietal has its own illustration that looks like its own ancient Grecian frieze. I'm also a bit of an art history buff, so this caught my interest in that regard and reminded me that the braincells I was about to kill were really quite educated. I actually ended up purchasing a bottle of the Pinot Grigio and it tasted quite nice too. Ten points! 

Weapon number 2: Target demographic. Heck, women make up a large percentage of the wine-drinking population. We love to get together with our girlfriends, and drink and gossip. This wine maker totally tapped into that. Once again, a unique illustration for each varietal not only lets you remember the label but which flavor you prefer as well. I only ended up with a couple of images here, but the Middle Sister label offered at least five different varietals, each with a middle sister with outfits indicating a different personality. Women love that. We want to relate to our product. We want it to remind us of our friends. The merchandiser wants us to want to buy more and share it with our friends. And sisters. Which is exactly what I plan to do on my next trip to the store. This label is clever too in that it asserts the individuality of the center figure, and makes the lady customer feel that she too is making a unique choice of her drink. Also, the adjectives describing the personality of the figure on the label should hopefully describe the flavor or personality of the wine as well.  Full marks!

Weapon 3: Humor. I think having a good time is generally at the forefront of our minds any time we crack open a bottle. I love it when wine labels can acknowledge they can be part of that by not taking themselves so seriously. I love labels that use puns (pinot evil...Ha! and the monkeys...it works visually and verbally. Teachers say that's how students remember things.) My husband loves them to, so I would certainly look for a wine that had a wonky sense of humor whenever entertaining like minded individuals. And the Arrogant Frog...now that's both snarky and clever...because it's a french wine. And it can make fun of itself. Ha. I'd be willing to give such a drink a try.
Weapon 4: Interactive. Now I've long been a fan of the Coppela winery, but this one certainly renewed my interest. I absolutely LOVE how the flip-book/film reel design of the label refers to Mr. Coppola's legendary work in the film industry. But because we recognize it as such, we again want to pick it up and see if it works. As much as I wanted to see if the figures appeared animated as I rotated the bottle, I was afraid to spin it too vigorously until I had purchased the bottle and consumed its contents. But I think a label like this definitely lends a whole new dimension to a game of spin the bottle!

Weapon 5: Eye Candy. Labels aside, there is something intrinsically enchanting about a glass bottle. It's shiny, the shape of the bottle is fluid and pleasing to pick up. I compulsively collect these bottles as I do shells on the beach. Despite in both cases, the item is meant only to protect the substance within, and meant to be disposed of when it's contents are removed...BUT IT'S SO SHINY!!!! I love the bottle designs that make use of the color of the glass itself. It brings the aesthetics enforced on a designer by the very screen printing process to use shape and color and form to their utmost effectiveness. I've had the actual wine, this Valley of the Moon, and didn't especially care for it, yet every time I see it, I gravitate towards it like a child hypnotized by a gleaming lollipop saying "Mommy I want that one!"

This is my contribution to the genre. I don't know if it remotely follows any of the qualities previously discussed, it just sprouted from a doodle in my sketchbook of some whimsical wine drinking zebras. It made me think of a warm summer afternoon somewhere in France on a holiday when nothing really matters but good wine, good food, good food and good friends. Cheers everybody!

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