Anatomy of a Wine Label

Wine labels can be as complex as the contents inside. In addition to looking good, they must provide a lot of information. There is a lot to know about a bottle of wine, and it’s the label’s job to communicate that to the consumer.

As we recently discussed, the use of “wine labels” dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, with seals and etchings put in place to improve trade. And over centuries, it has evolved a great deal and now there are federal rules and regulations with which to comply. Some information is mandatory, and some is nice to have, but all is meant to properly reflect the quality of the contents within. From crucial details like the brand, year, and region to more fun facts like flavor notes and pairing suggestions, your label is story with a designated hierarchy to help you tell the tale.

Brand

Who made the wine? The maker’s branding will usually appear at the top or bottom of the label (like many French wine labels).

Year

When were the grapes harvested? This information, while not mandatory, is common among wine labels as it speaks to the quality of the bottle’s contents, especially if you’re up on your vintage variations.

Type

What kind of wine is it? This is where the grape or varietal type is communicated, e.g., Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, etc. Wines that call out their varietal name must derive at least 75% of the product from the specified grape.

 

Region

Where was the wine made? The region of origin breaks down in a few different ways, and there are rules to be followed. If a state or county is named, it is federal law that at least 75% of the grapes used in production come from said location. If an AVA is cited (an American viticultural area, e.g., Napa Valley), the law states that at least 85% of the grapes must come from said area. And under California law, 100% of the grapes must come from California if the state is named on the bottle.

 

Producer & Bottler

Where was your product made and bottled? If this location differs from the winery or vineyard, this location, both name and address, must be printed on the label.

 

Alcohol Content

What is the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV)? Unless it can be deduced from its class (e.g., table win suggests an ABV of 14% or less), this number is required on every label.

 

Net Contents

How much wine is in the bottle? Whether it’s printed on the label or blown into the glass, this number (expressed in milliliters) must be present on every bottle.

 

Sulfite Warning

Does this wine have more than 10 parts per million of sulfur dioxide or more? If so, your label must bear a warning that says “CONTAINS SULFITES”.

 

Government Warning (Most often on back label)

The Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (November, 1988) requires that every label of an alcoholic beverage bare a specific government warning that states:

Government Warning:

(1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.

(2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.”

 

Anything Else

Additional messaging may appear on the back label, such as pairing suggestions, flavor notes, and possibly some history on the winery or vineyard. These fun facts are not mandatory, but can serve as helpful hints for thirsty wine enthusiast.

 

Now, Make it Sing!

You’ve got the crucial information down. Now it’s time to add the touches that will talk it off the shelf. Blue Label Digital Printing offers special features and fine materials to help you create a custom wine label that will do your product justice. If you’ve got a bold and complex Cabernet, a matte material seems like a nice pairing. A light, crisp Sauvignon Blanc? A glossy finish has a nice effect! Got an organic grape? An earthy craft paper is an excellent choice. Once you’ve chosen your material, consider special treatments for a little something extra. Spot varnishes are a great way to highlight the information you’re particularly proud of (e.g., a private reserve; a vintner’s selection) or a special design element. And details like hot foil stamping and embossed textures add a level of sophistication wine lovers will appreciate.

Your custom wine labels deserve the very best, and our facilities offer the highest quality, the most flexibility, and the fastest turnaround (3-5 days from the time you submit, because not everything gets better with age). Get in touch with us today to get the barrel rolling. Cheers!

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