What's Behind the Wine Label?

There is no denying that wine is a product that appeals to the senses of taste and smell. So how does a consumer select a bottle of wine in the grocery aisle amongst hundreds of options? Most of the time, the decision relies almost solely on the visuals of the wine label. First and foremost, a label must meet legal standards. Details like alcohol content, appellations, warning messages, and varietal identification are among some of the items that must appear on any domestic wine label. After these criteria are met, then the fun can begin for wineries on designing a label that focuses on messaging, both stated and understated. Let’s break down the significant elements of designing a wine label and how they influence purchasing decisions. 


Label Types 

There are several basic types of labels. Each conveys a different message and will attract a different type of consumer. 

  • Château label: The word “Château” in French translates to “castle.” In the wine business, it refers to a wine-producing estate, which is usually a combination of vineyards, cellars, and any buildings on the property. A Château label often conveys an element of elegance and prestige. 
  • Animal label: This kind of wine label will feature an animal; maybe it is the winery’s mascot like a dog or cat. Perhaps it is a more imaginary creature like a deer standing upright and wearing a suit. Animals are often used to convey a more fun-loving brand and aesthetic. 
  • Stationary label: A stationary wine label will have an emphasis on typography. This could mean that the typography is minimal, clean, and sleek or chunky, block text, and bold. The first option gives off a sense of being understated while the second is louder and could be seen as playful. 
  • Vacation label: A vacation label can be thought of as any label that has a picture or landscape drawing element to it. For example, if a wine bottle has an outline drawing of mountains or a picture of the winery’s tasting room on the label. The goal of this kind of label is to take the consumer on a journey. 
  • Ironic label:  An ironic brand label will use an element of humor to draw the purchaser in and hold their attention. Ironic labels can be minimal or eclectic, but they always have humor.
  • Art label: An art label will rely more heavily on visual elements. There may be a pattern or specific art style, like an abstract design on the wine label. 


The Details 

Once the basics of the wine bottle label have been selected, it’s time to move on to the details of the design. All of these details have the objective of helping the wine bottle stand out from the crowd and holding your focus. 


  • Contrast: Strong contrasting colors or black and white elements can be enticing. When it comes to contrasting elements you should ask yourself, do these contrasting elements feel true to the brand? 
  • Flash: Some wine labels may call for adding metallic, gloss, or embossing. Similar to contrasting colors, these elements are eye-catching and are meant to pull your focus. 
  • Small details: Whether it is text or a visual element these small details are meant to leave you, as the consumer, wanting more. The goal of small text details is to draw in your focus and cause you to read the text, thus holding your attention. 



Go for the Grab

Now that the label has a consumer’s attention, let’s talk about the aspects of the wine label design that are there to entice them to pick the bottle up. 


  • Horizontal labeling: A horizontal label forces them to pick it up to read more easily. 


  • Partial exposure: This is meant to tease them by giving a glimpse of something intriguing. Whether it be the back of the wine label design or some other element, the hope is that they will pick the bottle up to learn more. 
  • Texture: Once in hand, they might notice some texture elements. The texture is a way to keep the consumer intrigued. Texture ideas might be raised lettering, different paper textures, or smooth and rougher areas on the wine bottle and label. 


When to drink 

Often subtle elements of the wine label can clue you in to whether or not the wine is meant to be opened and enjoyed or should live in a wine cellar for special occasions. 


  • Drink now: A drink me now wine label may be an animal, ironic, or vacation label with bright colors, louder fonts, and flash elements. All of these elements convey a playful open me now message. 
  • Cellar me: A cellar me wine label may be a château, ironic, or art label with minimalistic typography, small details, and understated texture. A cellar me wine label doesn’t mean boring but does have a more understated design than a drink me now bottle. 



Wine seekers are on the hunt for a bottle that will impress while remaining universally appealing. Wine bottle labels are at the forefront of letting you know what to expect from that wine and winery. According to Nielson, 64% of consumers trying a new product simply because the package catches their eye, package design is one of the most underappreciated marketing levers. Wine labels and packaging play a significant role in the selection of new wines. What kind of wine label do your consumers usually gravitate towards? Tell us in the comments below or tag us on Facebook or Instagram at @texashillcountrywine