Keeping Wine Label Design Under Wraps

By Paula Sugarman

As a wine label designer and frequent wine purchaser, it takes something special to grab my attention in the wine aisle. Recently I came across a bottle of wine covered in blood red wrapping with skeletons, demon horses and generally foreboding imagery. Without a thought I picked it up for a closer look because it was unique in both texture and design. The wine is called Curious Beasts and is part of a line of wrapped wines created for Safeway.

This got me thinking about how wrapped wine bottles stand out because they are not very common. Probably because of the added printing and labor costs most sane wineries are keen on avoiding. But there are a few advantages to cloaking your bottle that are worth considering.

Wrapping Makes It A Special Occasion

I don’t know about you, but a lot of my wine purchases are picked up on the way to an event. Whether a dinner party, anniversary, birthday or special date, a bottle of wine makes the perfect gift. And what could be better than a spiffily wrapped bottle? I’m always up for anything that makes me look cool and trendy without any effort. Coppola Wines thought of this year’s ago when they did a festive pink cellophane wrap around their Sofia Blanc de Blancs. Not to mention a four pack of mini pink cans, straws included…but that’s another story.

More recently, wine and spirits label designers, Stranger & Stranger, thought many wine buyers would like to purchase based on occasion rather than vintage, varietal or region. There are twenty-two fun and striking designs in the series. I was surprised to find that Curious Beasts, the one that originally caught my eye, is actually my least favorite. The colors are a little too muted when it’s on the shelf with a hundred other wines. But if the most understated wrap in the line is getting my attention, they’ve done a great job.

 

Fewer Rules, More Fun
Because wrapping a wine bottle is considered packaging instead of labeling, the government requirements are less stringent. This offers a nice opportunity to think outside the box (or bottle) and let your brand breath a little more freely. A wrapped wine bottle will provide a lot more space to expand your brand story. Check out this Filirea gi, a homemade wine from Greece designed by Zafeiriadis Christos. The wrap literally illustrates the story of how their wine is made. Pretty hard to do in the confined space of a traditional label. From a designer’s standpoint, having such an expansive and unique canvas opens up all kinds of exciting opportunities.

More Fun Begets More Work

As you can see from the bottom of the Curious Beasts package, the top was tied closed with a black rubber band, about as simple as you can get, but looks great. There are a lot of simple ways to die cut, fold and seal your bottle wrap for ease of production, but all of them are going add steps and additional cost. Or if you’re small enough to do it all by hand, it will just add time. So it seems that wrapped packaging will only be reasonable for very large producers and the very small. The finished product is definitely fun but getting there is definitely more work.

Stranger and Stranger designed this custom sleeve to streamline production and keep wrapper looking sleek.

To Wrap It Up

Wrapping wine bottles will continue to be the exception rather than the rule, but that’s what makes it distinctive. With all the competition out there, it’s difficult to get your wine noticed. You may find that hiding it in an intriguing little package will bring the attention it deserves.

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Paula Sugarman is owner and creative director of Sugarman Design Group, a California graphic design studio specializing in brand identity, wine label design and food package design.

www.sugarmandesigngroup.com

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