A deep gaze into the world of wine, beer, and more

Wine Bottle Labels – History and Advice

The Origins

Wine is as old as the hills it would seem – wine bottle labels not so much. The first wine bottle labels were first introduced by a French Monk Named Pierre Perignon in the 17th century (as it so happens, he’s also the namesake of the famous Dom Perignon champagne). The bottle tag was made of parchment and tied to the bottle’s neck with a piece of string – simple enough. This comes as no surprise because when we think of the French – one of the first things that comes to mind is wine and the high quality offerings that come out of this country.

Pierre Perignon, creator of wine bottle labels

Pierre Perignon, creator of wine bottle labels

As wine became more popular, different blends were being made which needed to be labeled (for quality and origin). These were the beginnings of the more modern wine bottle labels that we see today.

As time went on, more advanced methods of wine label making became known. One man who had a major influence in the wine label process was Alois Senefelder from Czechoslovakia. Senefelder invented lithography – the process of printing from flat metal formerly stone, the surface treated so as the repel the ink except where it is required for printing.

Alois Senefelder

Picture of Alois Senefelder

This was an advantage over printing each label by hand, as was done previously. Since the wine bottle labels were produced by a machine rather than by hand, more information could be included on the label.

Wine bottle labels continued to progress in the 19th century, becoming more informative and descriptive for those who bought the bottles.  They would include bits of information like the characteristics of the town they came from, for example.

At the time, champagne labels were very colorful and brought attention to themselves. Not to be outdone, wine makers decided to move away from the boring black fonts and white papers and add more interesting details to their labels e.g. coat of arms, awards, portraits, landscapes and individual wine families.

Wine Labels in the 21st Century

Today, wine bottle labels are extravagant in nature and are a work of art themselves. Wine bottle label makers take pride in producing their own style to give the consumer a hint about what to expect. The more sophisticated the wine label, the better quality the wine will be, right?  Makers should always be careful to communicate the image they seek to portray themselves as.  Common sense would dictate that if one sees a cartoonish figure on the wine label, the chances are high that the wine won’t be of high quality.

Busier wine labels often attract a younger crowd that may have less knowledge about vineyards and the origins of what they’re drinking, while more mature wine drinkers will choose something with a simpler, more traditional wine bottle label. For whatever reason, wine bottles with more noticeable labels often contain a sweeter wine, while their drier counterparts stick to more simplistic designs. As a buyer, you can use this as a vague measuring stick to help determine what something may taste like before choosing what to bring out of the store with you.

As a means of reaching out to the younger generation of wine drinkers, many producers have become savvy to this by placing an increased emphasis on what the bottle tag looks like. We know from advertising that the more colorful and flamboyant the designs are, the more they’ll get our attention if we are unfamiliar with wine drinking.

Examples of fun, modern day wine labels that may appeal to younger buyers

While this is great for wine makers, keep in mind that just because the label may be a work of art, it doesn’t mean the wine will taste as good as it looks.

Customizing Wine Labels – A Popular Undertaking

Many people tend to personalize and customize their own bottles for different reasons.  Whether you’re doing this for the purposes of a gift or offering custom wine bottles as giveaways or favors at a formal event like a wedding or other party, there are all kinds of possibilities that anyone can easily take advantage of.  There are even wine label making software packages that offer templates to make it easy by printing your own.

Example of a custom wine label

Whatever your goals may be, there’s lots to be learned about the art of wine labels.  Our resource here goes into detail about more specific types of labels and tags, but we don’t stop there.  We’ll take a look at more wine accessories that may be of interest to you, as well as subject matters relating to other beverages.

Our biggest piece of advice is to have fun with the process if you’re looking to create or purchase some labels.  The possibilities are endless, and the end result can be highly rewarding when gone about the right way.

For a look at more related information that may be of use to you, have a look at our additional articles here.  Thanks for stopping by!