High-end wine labels often feature serene images. Mid-level wines regularly feature flowing descriptions of the tastes to expect. And inexpensive options may focus on experience. There are, however, a few universal truths when it comes to wine labels.
First, you have limited space — and you have to be aware of exactly what's acceptable, as all labels must be preapproved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before they go on store shelves.
Second, the label should be sufficiently unique, so if consumers love the wine, they can easily describe the bottle to friends when making a suggestion. (The wine world recently has started taking a lesson from the craft beer industry in how it utilizes word of mouth to boost sales.)
Finally, the label should make the wine look more expensive than it actually is. That way, whoever brings the bottle to a dinner can impress their friends.
"We try to make labels that look $10 to $15 more than the price point to make a value proposition built in," said CF Napa's Schuemann. "The consumer wants to know, Does it look like I spent money on it?"
So how much does a good label impact sales? That's not as easy a question as it seems. Relabeling a wine usually comes as part of a larger marketing push, so is it the label? The refocused message? The marketing?
Treasury Wine Estate's Floor points to the rejuvenation of Sterling last year. The bottles went from a dark rectangle with a sedate image to a brushed silver/chrome flowing label that features an embossed seal of the winery. That gave the wine a more sophisticated look that went hand in hand with its new slogan: "Always polished, never dull." But Floor stops short of giving the label all the credit for the brand's revival (which he declined to detail financially).
"There's a myriad of things that rejuvenated the brand," he said. "Without a doubt, the label and packaging is important [though]. It's one of the first things that draws people's attention."