They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but let’s get real; we all do.

We judge books by their covers, people by their clothes and wine by its label (at least at the beginning – even if it’s not intentional).

Last week we revealed the vital importance of a great wine label and shared one of our all-time favourites.

But, what is it that draws us to a label. Colour? Illustrations? Typography? Tag-lines? Probably, all of the above. Wine labels come in all shapes, sizes, colour palettes and styles. There is no one size fits all, perfect label template. However, there are 5 common elements that apply to the best-on-shelf.

  1. They draw on the wine or winemaker’s USP

A USP or Unique Selling Point is a fancy way of saying the thing that makes one wine or winemaker stand out from the crowd. What makes it or them different to everything else you, the consumer, are likely to buy? For some labels, it’s the history or prestige of the brand, for others it’s the region or that the wine is made organically or the name or that they want to be accessible to everyday people. A good label reflects this USP in the design and/or the wording.

  1. They market to their ideal customer

No matter what the industry, any business that doesn’t have a good sense of the type of customer who needs and is likely to invest in a product is on the back foot.Are you more likely to buy cheerful and colourful or muted and serious? Do you like designs that are on-trend or timeless?A winemaker that wants your business, has a sense of who you are, what you respond to, your pain points and that helps them design a label that grabs your attention.

  1. They’re aware of competitor designs

It’s one thing to do things differently than competitors, it’s another to take advantage of what already works. Certain varietals, certain price points and certain styles have certain designs. Most of us don’t have a lot of time to review rows and rows of bottles before heading to the counter, so, when scanning the shelves, we are likely to automatically discount colours, motifs and font sizes that place a bottle outside the category we want. A great wine label simultaneously fits in and stands out.

  1. They encapsulate the wine in a couple of words or a phrase

There’s not a lot of room on a wine bottle for words – at least on the front label, anyway. However, the limited amount of copy that is printed on the bottle must be persuasive to the point of profitable.Wording on a label needs to get the point across succinctly and compellingly. Hand-picked. Limited release. Wild. Organic. Surprising. Full-bodied. A conversation starter for a sunny day. A few, carefully selected adjectives, nouns and verbs could be all it takes to get a buyer over the line.

  1. They are a collaborative process between winemaker and professional designer

A winemaker may know the USP, target customer, competition and tagline, but if they don’t invest in a designer with the right tools, the finished product will undermine the entire process. High quality images; design dimensions; label size and shape; font shade; and bottle shape and colour all need to work in harmony to work commercially.

Next time you are perusing wine selections through your vintner of choice, pay attention to the wines you find most appealing and why and apply above criteria for a better understanding as to why you like what you like and how your favourite wines fit the bill.

Natalie Green.


This award-winning bottle was created by Spanish designer Eduardo del Fraile. The polka dots and hairstyle of the woman featured on the bottle are more Spanish, while the vertical text and the white face makeup are nods to Asian cultures.