There’s a pattern evolving from the traditional to the bright and funky, writes <..." /> How to design a wine label – The ultimate guide – Cheers North East


Published on May 9th, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour


How to design a wine label – The ultimate guide

There’s a pattern evolving from the traditional to the bright and funky, writes Mark Roberts of Lanchester Wines

Thirty seven per cent of us admit to buying the same bottle of wine and never trying anything new. And, that is largely due to combination of (1) Always shopping in the same place, and (2) Recognising a familiar label.

Choosing this favourite label in the first place wasn’t an accident; months of research and thousands of pounds go into creating the perfect wine label, designed to entice you and keep you coming back for more. Every single thing is thought about, including the colour, the name, the design, the paper, the finish, the texture, the cap – even which bottle shape is used (yes, there are many different options).

The old saying really is true – we buy with our eyes.

While both taste and extrinsic attributes influence a consumer’s liking for a particular bottle of wine, packaging and brand are the biggest influences. Some studies we cite go as far as to say that for wine – and especially sparkling wine – 70% of liking can be attributed to the expectation created by packaging and labelling information*.

A great example of this is our Otra Tierra range (‘Another World’ in Spanish), originally launched in 2013 as a collection of Chilean wines. The label worked really well for the first few years then sales started to drop. Wine labels generally have a life of three to four years before they need an update, so we redesigned the package in 2018 and have since seen sales quadruple. The wine inside the bottle has stayed the same throughout, so we know this increase in sales is 100% because of the redesign.

A craft evolution

Over recent years you’ll have seen wine labels evolve – more bright colours, funky names and a general moving away from traditional white paper. Some of this change can be attributed to the rise of craft beer, where bottles, cans and pumpclips are bright, vibrant and a break from the norm.

“Craft” is as much about marketing and storytelling as the actual product, and wine does not always do justice to its many great stories. But this is changing. Wine producers can communicate craft cues more strongly and in a more compelling way with interesting and authentic “back stories” – these could be about the winery, the winemaker, or the wine itself. Wine always has an interesting story to tell.

And, like beer, wine labels can be bold, weird and wacky! Australian winemakers are arguably leading the way in funky designs bringing big, bold and bright colours into their labelling creating brands that jump off the shelf and pop on the bar.

A great example is McPherson Wines, based in Australia. Their wine evolution started around eight years ago with the design of Moonstruck (Shiraz Tempranillo). This was created especially for the Nordic market and features a gothic gargoyle (we’ll admit, when it was first presented to Lanchester Wines we said “no thanks”). Then, three years ago when UK wine label design started to evolve we called them back and Moonstruck has become a consistent best seller.   

There are always subtle hints about the wine shown within the label. For instance, eight or nine years ago, colours would represent the varietal – so light green for, say, a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, pale blue for Pinot Grigio, yellow for Chardonnay.

You may still find these hints on Old World wines, the ‘original” European wine-producing countries such as France, Germany and Italy which often have more traditional labels. Now the use of colour tends to be more psychological, influencing both the perceived value of the wine and also its taste. For example, if we see a dark label with gold metallic we’ll instantly think “this is an expensive bottle of wine”.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, French scientists found that the background colour of packaging persuades drinkers to pick one red wine over another. It seems that we believe that different colours suggest different flavours – those who wanted a wine with a full-bodied flavour picked red labels, while drinkers seeking a more floral taste went for orange.

Black was associated with dry, earthy or woody flavours; red with tangy; and orange with flowery flavours. White was linked to milky tastes, while blue was neutral.


However much fun we make the labels, alcohol packaging is governed by strict regulations. We must legally present the country and region of origin, volume, alcoholic strength, allergens, type of wine, etc. Importantly, every bottle must say who imported the wine and who bottled it, so next time check the back of your wine bottle and look for Lanchester Wines and Greencroft Bottling, both will be marked by our County Durham postcode DH9 7XP. You’ll know this wine has been proudly imported and bottled in the North East of England.

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Alastair Gilmour

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