They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The same applies to a wine and its label.
It’s hard, however, not to be seduced. Let’s face it, looks often count. At least initially.
With hundreds of wines on the shelf vying for your attention, one needs to stand out. That first impression might entice you to buy, but it also raises expectations.
No matter how pretty, funky or cheeky a label, the wine inside the bottle must deliver as much as its outer appearance. Ultimately the joy of wine comes from drinking it, not gazing at the bottle. So, it better taste good.
Alas, not all do. So far, I haven’t come across any true winners among the “message on a bottle” types – at least, not that I can find locally.
Luckily, there are plenty of other clever labels that catch the eye while also managing to satisfy the palate.
For back to school, here’s a few that look cool. They’ll help you get noticed at a party but also make a great lasting impression.
Fowles gets full marks for designing fun, entertaining labels as well as crafting wines that deliver. Its Farm to Table series demonstrates food pairing suggestions right on the label. A sheep for Shiraz, a cow for Cabernet and a pig for Pinot Noir. Indeed, any cut of pork would be delicious with this bright and juicy Pinot, which offers redcurrant, strawberry, bay leaf, cinnamon and earthy nuances.
La Posta’s red and gold Art Deco label pops on the shelf, evoking Argentina’s golden age. Old-fashioned on the outside but modern on the inside, this red blend of Malbec, Syrah and Bonarda has smoky oak, spice and chocolaty coffee notes. Full yet soft, with slightly syrupy plum, blueberry and cherry fruit, it’s easy to drink on its own.
Laughing Stock references owners David and Cynthia Enns’ former lives in the financial industry. The trading floor ticker-tape encircling the bottle gives all the details of the wine. As for what’s inside, the Viognier is packed with peach preserve, poached pear and honey, lifted by hints of ginger tea. This rich, full white manages to counter its girth with just enough balancing acidity.
Provence rosé scores bonus points for its perfume bottle packaging. Here the aesthetic adds to the enjoyment. The celebrity connection of Miraval had me cynical at first, but the now-separated Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie teamed up with the excellent winemaking team of the Perrin family. Crisp, dry and pale pink, it is a classic and elegant example of Provence rosés and one of the few that is still in stock.
Designed by Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo (who takes his inspiration from Gaudí), the Torello Gran Reserva may appeal to art lovers. While it’s priced for collectors rather than students, this super-premium Cava lives up to its fancy packaging. Ageing for 70 months on the lees gives a toasty, grilled almond complexity with enticing pastry, dried pear and anise. Savour slowly while you contemplate any work of art.
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