You can’t taste the label

By Kori ~ January 9th, 2008.

“…it is not the year, the producer, or even the label that determines the quality of the wine. It is the wine in the glass, whatever the label or producer or year…Drink wine, not labels.” –Dr. Maynard Amerine

“Buying the label” is a mistake that I’ve made and I’ve seen others make time and time again. Has it ever happened to you?

Wine marketing statistics say that labels are what consumers buy. I’ve seen a study that said that eighty percent of wine purchases in the USA are made based on the label. Look at the money many wineries are putting into their label design and production and you inherently know that labels sell. Yet, the label has nothing to do with the quality of the wine inside. You can’t taste the label so don’t buy based on the label.

“Buying the label” can manifest itself it two different forms. The first is buying a wine because it has a fancy, cute, or whimsical label that you find appealing. The second is buying a wine because of the reputation of the winery (you think you’re supposed to like it) or because the price point is such that you assume it must be good.

I attended a wine tasting party where the pre-tasting conversation revolved around several of the participants telling us about their favorite wines (naturally, very expensive ones). One gentleman in particular just knew he could pick his favorite out anywhere. Unbeknownst to him, his “favorite” was in the flight we were going to blind taste that night. When we finished our tasting and tallied the scores, his “favorite” finished next to last and he picked it dead last in the tasting. The consensus favorite and the one he picked number one was a wine costing 1/3 of his “favorite.” Why had it been his “favorite”? It had been his “favorite” because it was “supposed” to be good. He had bought the label, not the wine.

Hopefully in coming weeks and months, I can help you find some great wines that are great on their merits, not just because of their fancy label, winery hype, or cost.

Filed under: General Wine Information

Reader's Comments

  1. Colby | January 14th, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Great first post, looking forward to the next one!