On Labels

Cajsa avatar

Interesting bouquet, floral notes, hint of tannins, strong peppery flavor with lots of ripe blackberries and jam. Ah, yes, talking about wine. It’s all good and well, really, there’s lots of things to find in a glass, if one takes the time to discover them (or has the time to, before the glass is empty. One of my foremost pitfalls when it comes to wine critiquing, let’s be honest.). But what we are not, then, talking about, is the actual reason a lot of us have for picking one bottle over another in the store: how much we connect with the drink itself.

I will be the first one to come out and say that I have picked many a bottle based on its label. An attractive design, a clever name. This urge runs even more rampant when it comes to beer. I feel like breweries (particularly of the micro variety) are often so clever about their names that I can’t help but want to try them, either because of what it means for me to be a person that drinks something with a quirky name or cool story, or because I feel mischievous ordering it from the bartender.

Discussed this with a bartender a while back. He said, we do not just sell the drink, we sell the vibe that goes with it. And when he got to talking about Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter, with its label illustrated by Ralph Steadman and its tribute to the fantastic and crazy Hunter S. Thompson, I have to admit, I was buying it. He called it the beer equivalent of a good spanking.

Drinking Gonzo obviously isn’t going to turn me into some carefree, lunatic philosopher, I know that, but I’m still ready to buy the beer and play pretend. Just like when I go to grocery stores in Utah, where our parents live, and pick up a pack of Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Porter. It’s tasty, absolutely, but I mostly buy it because their ”Why have just one!” tagline cracks me up, every time. I probably shouldn’t just have admitted that. Don’t tell my sister.

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15 Responses to “On Labels”

  1. 2011/12/03 at 01:53 #

    Three Monkey’s wine can drive you nuts, label or not. Just look at this and heed the warning not to let the label fool you. http://www.break.com/index/microwave-box-of-wine.html

  2. 2011/11/20 at 12:41 #

    Ooh, do you remember this bottle design? Love it! http://designisborn.com/?p=2200

  3. 2011/10/19 at 09:45 #

    I bought this the other day.
    Am I a label drinker now? ;)

    • 2011/10/20 at 09:04 #

      Yes! Welcome to the club! (but also, for the sake of our good names as wine people: how was it?)

  4. 2011/10/18 at 02:37 #

    and Peter: can I join your group of lesser folk? I find my problem is so often that if I happen upon a bottle I like, the chance of my actually remembering what bottle/grape/region/name it was is basically zilch. If I was smart, I’d make an app for that. Now I just have to rely on labels that make me giggle.

    • 2011/10/18 at 09:03 #

      I’m sure there IS an app for that. Considering you JUUUUUST got in line with the rest of the modern world and got yourself a smartphone (instead of that 1990′s ericsson that would die in the middle of a call) maybe it can be your new task? Expecting an updated post on wine-apps for the memory challenged non-nerds any day now. ;-)

  5. 2011/10/18 at 02:29 #

    Oh! Oh! I wasn’t familiar with the three monkey wine, Erica, but I did click your link, and I have to say: a) I love those monkeys, how cute are they?! and b) my first thought however was that that’s how you end up looking when you drink the wine. Perhaps the marketing team should’ve thought twice..

    • 2011/10/18 at 09:04 #

      Hehe, with ”you” I presume you mean ”one”, meaning ”me” as in ”you”. Because yes Cajsa, ”you” do look like that if you drink a box of said one. At least like the monkey in the middle.

  6. 2011/10/14 at 09:03 #

    I have purchased many a bottle of wine on label and design aesthetics only. I suppose its inescapable, for those of us who can easily assess what we like in the visual arts world, but are purchasing a product whose virtues and flaws are unknown until it hits the palette. Even with the enormous amount of knowledge necessary to make informed decisions in the wine world (daunting for us lesser folk) it can still be such a crapshoot until you taste it. And honestly, that penchant for judging a book by it’s cover has actually led to some really enjoyable wines for me.

  7. 2011/10/13 at 10:42 #

    Oh no, are you the type to buy the bag-in-box ”Three Monkeys” because of the cute little monkeys too? http://www.tr3apor.se/ Sigh… I’m outnumbered… But hey, in all honesty, I try wines based on label. And I do love the ”Polygamy Porter” for the awesome label!

  8. 2011/10/13 at 09:47 #

    art appreciation! there we have it! that makes us look classy and whatnot :) thank you both for letting me know I am not alone…

  9. 2011/10/12 at 11:36 #

    i hear you, cajsa! maybe we can pass it off as art appreciation?

  10. 2011/10/12 at 10:03 #

    Excellent point! And let me be the second one to admit picking wine based on labels and names. Also, sadly, the little pictures of the cow/pig/bird next to the bottles…


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