The Narrow Window Through Which A Wine’s Back Label Wiggles
I picked up the bottle of Cabernet Franc we drank the other night and that had yet to find its way into the recycling. I read the back label. It was one of those back labels that seems to be on every single bottle of wine. I could have written it in my sleep and anyone who drinks wine semi-regularly could have written the label.
“Our Estate vineyard…”, “Handpicked…”, “Unique Terroir…”, “…months in French oak barrels”, “Finishes in the mouth with supple tannins…”
I get the purpose of a back label. It’s either there to help sell the wine in the case of it being on a retail shelf or to confirm the good taste of the purchaser in the case of the bottle having been purchased at a restaurant. I get it.
And of course, the content of the label ought to reinforce the brand image. In the case of most wines costing $40 or more, that’s probably going to be a brand image that emphasizes a serious approach to grape growing, winemaking, terroir or the owner’s ego. It’s a fairly narrow window through which a wine’s back label seems to wiggle.
And so I’m reading this thing and I can’t help but think, “can’t you at least entertain me?” Make me think? Amuse me? Maybe…maybe even spur me to do something…even something small.
Then I thought of all the back labels I’ve written. Probably at least 100. I can probably think of one or two that diverged from this tedious norm. And I started to wonder….is it because it works? Or is it because the ubiquity of this style of back label leads us (marketers) to believe this is just how it’s done? It must be a bit of both.
I start to wonder…
Would employing comedy on a back label make the wine seem less serious than we want it to seem?
Would employing just a bit of mystery or opaqueness make the winery seem too pretentious? (is that possible?)
Would providing buyers with a puzzle to solve on the back label bring down perceived value of the wine?
Would using the back label to provoke buyers to buy other bottles of the same wine in order to collect different pieces of a puzzle that, when all collected, results in a prize be just too stupid.
I re-read the back label of the empty bottle. “Located on a hillside…”, “…in the cool morning air”, “…That delivers unique character to the wine,” “The wine was aged for 16…”, “…and notes of cocoa, anise and ripe blackberry flavors”.
Less serious, opaqueness, puzzles, stupid and collectible items weren’t seeming all too bad.