What's in a label


The other day I saw an advert in the New Yorker for something called (IIRC) "Redwood Grove." Done in 60's cartoon style, it said something like "Take the long trail to the grove. Redwood grove." You can just about imagine the archetypal cowboy espousing this, or maybe the CFO of an energy company. Now clearly some marketing mavens thought that this positioned their plonk -- at least I assume it's plonk -- dead center on the target market.
Like everyone here, I occasionally browse the supermarket or specialty store glancing around for what might catch my eye. The hunter's instinct, perhaps, even though I buy the majority either in person or by mail direct from the producer. This "Redwood Grove" business got me thinking: what is on the label that appeals to me in the browsing (maybe should have been bovine instinct!) situation, and convinces me to buy-and-try?
Of course, there are things I avoid: negociants I don't like or know, clearly invented chateaux, supermarket brands. These things can usually read on the label like: mis en bouteille au chateau par SCEA Plurivins F33500. (Just made that up by way of example). The little guy with a barrel on his back (farmer/winemaker) is a good sign. But beyond that?
I think in general I tend to favor fairly sober labels when browsing. To me is says "serious about what's inside." Honestly names like "Dead Roo Canyon" or "Overweight Illegitimate Offspring" send me running; rightly or wrongly I expect raspberry cool-aid. I suspect if saw the famous Mouton labels without fore-knowledge, I'd walk on by. Although there is sometimes something there to appreciate visually!
Sometimes I try a bottle based purely on the fact that the label "looks good." There, I admit it. An impulse buyer, every sales mogul's dream. But as a wine lover "Redwood Grove" doesn't appeal. Now, it's a common family joke that I've got no grasp what so ever of "popular culture," but even still, am I that off base?
What is it about a label, for a bottle you've never heard about, that makes you indulge an impulse?
-E
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Emery Davis
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Emery Davis

"Emery Davis" in news: snipped-for-privacy@address.com...
A friend teaches marketing psychology at a US university. (For many years she has watched television professionally, for example; with an unusual twist: she silences the programs, and attends only the advertisements. Gathering relevant examples for her courses etc.) She talks about this sort of thing. It's expert psychology.
Back when US Chardonnays were exploding in popularity in the US markets (around 1981 -- possibly related to the John Anderson presidential campaign and the ascendancy of "Brie-and-Chablis Liberals," a catch phrase at the time) -- this was when the now-clichéd Chardonnay over-oakiness was still novel -- an article appeared about the label art business (I might still have it stashed somewhere). Upshot: retail shelves were crowded with me-too wines, and the way for a me-too wine to sell itself was with classy label art. To this end, certain artists had established themselves as effective, and it was understood that whoever met their price obtained higher sales. (Sort of like those high-powered labor-dispute lawyers whose services both sides bid for. It being understood that whoever secures the counsel will checkmate the dispute.)
To answer your question personally, Emery, I like understated labels as used lately in Burgundy by the Gros family, Domaine Arlaud, Dujac, quite a few people. Recently though, at a 2003 Germans tasting, I saw a beautiful classic German label on a couple of Schloss Johannisberger 375 ml's (the 2003 Rosalack Auslese, AP 10-04, and the 2003 Rosa-Gold BA, AP 11-04; both extremely succulent wines, the Aus especially built to age). Both by the way from Dee Vine Wines in San Francisco, www.dvw.com, if anyone is curious; don't judge the firm by its limited Web site. But the classic, colorful label caught everyone's eye and one very experienced taster, with experience of 19th-century German wines, remarked that it was in a 19th-century German wine label style.
Cheers -- Max
Reply to
Max Hauser

I pay a lot of attention to label design and find the subject facinating. When considering a wine I have no knowledge of, I tend to be attracted to labels that are elegant and simple or traditional in the European sense. Flashy labels usually put me off, although they occasionally work -- for example, I like the Rex Goliath label and the whimsical edginess of some of the Bonny Doon's . Of course, sometimes I like the label better than the wine, in which case I don't buy it again. Or I may avoid a kitschy label, later to discover that a decent wine is behind it.
To me
I agree. But, as you indicate, it is a tendency and certainly not a rule.
Andy
Reply to
AyTee

Labels have vanishingly little to do with what is in the bottle, IMHO. For the most part, labels seem correlated to what the winery *wants* you think think is in the bottle.
Oh, that's what you said, isn't it?
Sober, elegant, understated labels - anyone can do these. *Anyone*. Completely without regard to what is in the bottle. The only correlation I've seen is that wine with sober labels is more likely to cost more than wine with flippant labels. This means you're more likely to encounter expensive plonk in a bottle with a "sober" label than in a bottle with a flippant label.
I admit, when browsing in the supermarket, I'm a sucker for eye-catching labels. Sometimes I even buy wine because it's got an eye-catching label - and a price tag below $15. Frankly, these $15-below wines with eye-catching labels seem to please me more often than the $60-above wines with elegant labels.
Of course, I'm just relating what's worked for me. My own whims may have nothing to do with yours :-).
Cheers! Dana
Reply to
Dana H. Myers

Hi Max,
On Fri, 6 May 2005 09:38:50 -0700, "Max Hauser" sai= d:
] "Emery Davis" in news: snipped-for-privacy@address.com... [] ... ] > What is it about a label, for a bottle you've never heard about, ] > that makes you indulge an impulse? ]=20 ]=20 ] A friend teaches marketing psychology at a US university. (For many year= s=20 ] she has watched television professionally, for example; with an unusual=20 ] twist: she silences the programs, and attends only the advertisements.=20 ] Gathering relevant examples for her courses etc.) She talks about this s= ort=20 ] of thing. It's expert psychology. ]=20
. One of the few things I miss about the Bay Area (apart some wines of course) is Tivo. Your friend just needs a reverse Tivo.
] Back when US Chardonnays were exploding in popularity in the US markets=20 ] (around 1981 -- possibly related to the John Anderson presidential campai= gn=20 ] and the ascendancy of "Brie-and-Chablis Liberals," a catch phrase at the= =20 ] time) -- this was when the now-clich=E9d Chardonnay over-oakiness was sti= ll=20
Ah yes, those innocent days, practically communist days. When it was still considered patriotic to be a member of the ACLU (whether or not you actually carried the card about with you.)
] novel -- an article appeared about the label art business (I might still= =20 ] have it stashed somewhere). Upshot: retail shelves were crowded with me-= too=20 ] wines, and the way for a me-too wine to sell itself was with classy label= =20 ] art. To this end, certain artists had established themselves as effectiv= e,=20 ] and it was understood that whoever met their price obtained higher sales.= =20 ] (Sort of like those high-powered labor-dispute lawyers whose services bot= h=20 ] sides bid for. It being understood that whoever secures the counsel will= =20 ] checkmate the dispute.) ]=20
Fascinating. I had no idea this was the case in the CA industry, although I don't suppose it surprises me. I suppose like most east coast wine drink= ers of the time, CA was scarcely a blip on my radar. I had only been into=20 wine in a serious way for a few years, but I remember the (then excellent) Brookline Liquors being devoted largely to the french, with large burgundy and bordeaux sections and even a decent grounding in the loire and rhone, with lesser sections for the germans and italians. I'm sure there were some domestics in there, but I can't remember a bit.
] To answer your question personally, Emery, I like understated labels as u= sed=20 ] lately in Burgundy by the Gros family, Domaine Arlaud, Dujac, quite a few= =20 ] people. Recently though, at a 2003 Germans tasting, I saw a beautiful=20 ] classic German label on a couple of Schloss Johannisberger 375 ml's (the= =20 ] 2003 Rosalack Auslese, AP 10-04, and the 2003 Rosa-Gold BA, AP 11-04; bot= h=20 ] extremely succulent wines, the Aus especially built to age). Both by the= =20 ] way from Dee Vine Wines in San Francisco, www.dvw.com, if anyone is curio= us;=20 ] don't judge the firm by its limited Web site. But the classic, colorful= =20 ] label caught everyone's eye and one very experienced taster, with experie= nce=20 ] of 19th-century German wines, remarked that it was in a 19th-century Germ= an=20 ] wine label style. ]=20
That's an excellent point of course, the classic german labels have often been pretty ornate.
Max, last night I had a glass of very good Pommeau with my favorite kind of label. It was a yellow postit, scribbled in bic "Gonnesat 04/05" and he= ld on with multiple layers of scotch tape.
-E --=20 Emery Davis You can reply to snipped-for-privacy@ebayadelka.com by removing the well known companies
Reply to
Emery Davis

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