So we all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but apparently this counts twofold when it comes to wines. That is, when pretty packaging is what draws us to a bottle.
As a 22-year-old, it’s difficult for me to pass through a wine section unnoticed and, honestly, unsupervised. Older wine veterans will frequently hover over my shoulders, offering suggestions and critiquing any bottles I lay my eyes on, let alone pick up. But usually, this pestering guidance turns out to be more assisting than annoying.
A great piece of advice I received from one of these hovering liquor store staff members was about the visuals of a bottle. The liquor store had a display of “OMFG” and “WTF” bottles out, and this worker couldn’t pass it without complaining about the display and its popularity. Wines like these, similar to “Bitch” and other wines targeted directly at college-aged drinkers relied more on packaging and graphics than quality and taste, he said. He insisted it was the wines girls my age would never think to pick up that were the best, and to always shape my purchases around what wasn’t expected of my age bracket: what expert marketers weren’t using as a ploy to get their hands on my wallet.
Although New Age is still one of our faves, we’ve found this to be pretty true. Recently we were attracted to the artistic, sweet image of a daintily-drawn elephant on a bottle of sweet Rose. We fell for the ploy we’d been warned about and in return received a bottle of glorified water. That’s what it tasted like, at least.
Thankfully, our wine expert Kristen has a set of qualifications that can help us, and you, from ever making this mistake again:
What can we do to find some better quality bottles?
- Research before you buy – using the Vivino App to see what others think
- Know your wine regions – A Syrah from France tastes very different from a Shiraz from Australia
- Base decisions on geography: cold regions produce higher acidity thus tart wine. Warmer regions have more sunshine, so they produce higher sugar levels, which in turn creates fuller flavors.
- READ those wine labels – Does this wine come from a sub-region (specific city)? Does it have a quality label like “D.O.C.G.”, “A.O.C.”, or one of the “Crus”? These show that the grapes in the bottle are from specific places and prove quality. Each wine producing country usually has their own system.
- Beware the flair – traditional wine makers stick to the traditional wine label format (vintage, vineyard, grape variety, country, region/city, and quality indication). New cutting edge labels can hold great wines (like New Age), but they hold less information and can be harder to determine quality before purchase.
Based on Kristen’s advice, can you tell which of these is more traditional vs. eye catching?
The picture on the right is a more traditional wine label format v.s. the eye catching rooster label.
The Rooster wine WAS actually good but there is no proof on the label for quality or even a vineyard name on the front. Unless you know you like the grape, this can be risky.
At the end of the day it all comes down to each drinkers personal tastes. For more information on wine labels, check out the link here.
If you have tips of your own that you would like to share please post them to our comments!