I’m one of those relatively new wine drinkers that knows next-to-nothing about actual wine, but just enough to pretend that I know what I’m doing when selecting one. If I’m with a group of people who don’t usually buy wine, they defer to me. This is about as good an idea as closing one’s eyes and selecting a wine at random, but hey, I’ll take the extra responsibility.
This is mainly because it lets me do that certain type of wine-browsing–you know the one–where you walk along the racks, picking up certain bottles, turning them over, and muttering comments to yourself that you hope your friends take for informed musings on a particular vintage. If they only knew I was just saying “this one is a red one…” or “this one is from France…”
Despite my solid sommelier credentials, I’m not above occasionally choosing wine based on its packaging. I once bought a bottle of Ontario wine with a twist-off top because it had a bunch of well-designed raccoons on the bottle. It wasn’t that good (at least… I don’t think it was that great), but what can you do when faced with an awesome bottle?
That’s the question I might have to ask myself when I finally happen upon these products in-store, three examples of great design applied to the wine bottle. Our first example is a Shiraz called Boarding Pass, and comes from Australia’s R Wines. It’s a top example of creative packaging design as applied to a pretty constrained medium–if you want to be taken seriously as a wine producer, wild innovations in bottle design and shape usually mean you’ll get looked over by serious buyers. This is a perfect compromise: the design is fresh and original, and the playful luggage tag around the neck is a great touch. I’d go out of my way to buy this just so I could take it somewhere.
The second bottle to catch my eye comes from Spain–it’s the Baud-designed Lazarus Wine, with its packaging done entirely in Braille. Another great piece of work that would have my cash if I walked by it on a rack, no questions asked. Again, it’s tricky with wine, as most innovative design skirts the original/gaudy line, and subtlety is crucial in putting out a bottle that’ll catch the eye without drawing a follow-up groan.
My last candidate isn’t a bottle design at all, but rather these custom wine tags from popptags. They’re funny, honest, and letterpressed on recycled paper. There are tons of well-written, witty cards out there now, but these are both seriously funny and beautiful to look at. I’d go nuts if I got a nice bottle of wine with a tag on it that said “Nothing Says Thank You Like a Bottle of Wine I Know Nothing About.” Plus “The Wine Store Guy Said This Was Good” is a printed version of the exact line I spoke when recently giving someone a bottle. I think my friends and family know what they’re getting this year–yes indeed, a bunch of hilarious tags attached to thick $5.00 bottles full of red liquid.