Wine, as we all know, is an alcoholic beverage. It covers the entire spectrum of being a daily staple to an exorbitantly expensive collector’s item. The vastness of the industry, right from the farming of grapes to wine tasting to packaging and branding to its culinary usage to its religious and mythological linkages, makes it a subject of great interest amongst connoisseurs. Here is a sneak-peak into the world of wine and design thinking behind serving and packaging wines globally.Wine is made from grapes, and these are different from the ones we consume as a fruit. They are small, sweet, thick skinned, and have seeds. There are over a thousand varieties of wine grapes around the world. Wine finds its origins thousands of years ago in China and parts of Europe. With the European expansion, it got a strong foothold in the continent and with immigration of people, this art spread to other parts of the world like the United States and Argentina.Currently, France is the highest wine-producing country followed by Italy, Spain, USA and Argentina. If we locate these regions on the world map, we realise that these areas fall within similar weather belts (latitudes), which, in turn, points to the fact that wine requires specific weather conditions in addition to the geographic environment.
My personal favorite is Mosel Valley in Germany. The valley is named after the River Mosel that meanders through it. The region is Germany’s third largest wine producing region but tops the list in terms of international repute and prestige. The small cafes and wineries by the roadside offer a picturesque view and freshly produced crisp wine to sip on.
These are broadly the types of wine. The shape of a wine glass is a vital element to the whole experience of drinking wine.
The entire experience of tasting a red wine is not just in sipping it, but in smelling it as well. Hence, red wines are best served in large wine glasses. The bowls of these glasses will be fuller and rounder with a larger opening than other wine glasses of similar capacities in order to allow you to dip your nose into the glass to detect aroma. This bowl style is also vital because the larger surface area ensures that the wine comes in contact with more air, which augments the aroma and flavor of the wine.The bowl of a white wine glass is narrower and upright than that of a red wine glass, allowing the aromas to be released while also maintaining a cooler temperature. Slightly larger openings direct the wine to the tip and sides of the tongue. This helps one taste the sweetness of the wine in its entirety. The glass for more mature white wines will be straighter and taller to dispense the wine to the back and sides of the tongue to taste its bolder flavors precisely. Sparkling wines are served in the narrowest and tallest glasses to retain the carbonation.Dessert or Fortified wines are sweet wines as the name suggests. The glass to serve these are the smallest amongst all wine glass categories. This is because Dessert wines are high in alcohol percentage (15%), and hence, are served in small quantities.This is just the tip of the iceberg. The subject of wine-tasting in itself is vast and highly detailed.One would think that the aesthetic sense in packaging of wine bottles is of utmost importance because wine is many a times drunk at special occasions or given as a gift. While there is some truth to this, some designers globally have taken a step further to communicate a certain message or brought an aspect of design thinking to designing wine bottle labels. Here are some of our favorites:
These are Lazarus Wines from Spain. The label is designed in Braille and the wines are produced by highly trained and blind winemakers. Through this design, the producer emphasized on the fact that heightened senses of smell and taste alone make a superior wine. The label has been created by a Spanish design firm called Baud.
The De Bandera wine showcases the Spanish-Catalan political issue through its label design. Remove the perforated yellow strips t o turn the Spanish flag into a Catalan flag and make a political statement! The label design was created by La Fonda Gràfica and is available in and around Barcelona.
To gift a gorgeous bouquet of flowers or a bottle of sparkling wine? Well, you can do both together! This is the Blossom Cava Sparkling Wine and the label has been designed by PACKLAB in Finland.
This is an interactive conceptual design where the levels on the bottle are representative of the sea level. The producer wanted to highlight the eco-friendly practices at his wine production facility. In this case, it is a commitment to help stop rising sea levels. The label has been designed by Gemma Warriner.
The abstract designs on these bottles represent the actual lines from topographical maps in Italy’s winemaking regions. The corresponding numbers on the bottles refer to the approximate lines of latitude. This adds an element of wonder as one exactly knows where the grapes to make the particular bottle were sourced from. The label has been designed by the designer Rob Schellenberg.
This label design is a sarcastic take on conversations one makes at dinner parties. While the front shows what you usually would say (for eg: I’m so glad to be here!), the back shows what you actually are thinking (for eg: God when the hell can I get out of here!). Aptly, this is called the Small Talk Wine!
The Boarding Pass Shiraz label incorporated the entire air travel experience including the boarding pass and baggage tag on the bottle. This 2005 Shiraz was a big hit in the world of packaging design.
This is a very smart wine case design wherein after you finish the bottle, its case can be constructed i
nto a fully functional (and well-designed) slatted lamp. This is rightly called the Wine Case Lamp, and also treads on the sustainable practice of up-cycling in product design.Screaming Eagle is a classic example of what branding entails. Here, the packaging is average, the name is irrelevant, and from the reviews on Google, the wine doesn’t taste absolutely brilliant either. And yet, Screaming Eagle is the most expensive wine in the world.
A whooping $500,000 (Rs. 3.2 crore) a bottle! This is a collector’s item and is usually considered an investment. The producer has maintained exclusivity and produces limited quantities of the wine. There is an aura of legacy, rarity, individuality and aristocratic privilege around this wine, which is the essence of the brand.