Judging Wines by The Labels?

Matthew Latkiewicz over at Grub Street New York, recently posted a humorous and pointed article about judging wines by their labels.  The illustration, by Jen Cotton, borrowed from their site, illustrates the basic classifications of labels he identified and some of the sub-classifications.

I am not certain if he has yet identified all of the label classifications.  This taxonomy is in it’s early days.

In Gold Country, you can see examples in each of Mr. Latkiewicz’s identified categories.  With a few exceptions, in Gold Country, the wines with labels in the “French” category are pretty awful.  Whereas, those with labels in the “Diluted French” category are much more likely to be good.

I am an advocate of visiting wineries and tasting what they’ve made before buying.  So if you travel to Gold Country, or other wine producing regions, you can taste a wine and look at the label before making any purchases.  This is a good way of testing the wine label taxonomy.

But if I haven’t tasted a wine, and know nothing about it, I will confess to making decisions based on what the label looks like.  I won’t buy wines with French style labels, because I think they look pretentious.  I won’t buy wines with overly gimmicky labels because I want to be taken seriously.  I love a nicely designed, Modern graphic style label, but that goes back to my training as an architect and love of all things Modern.

What is your experience judging wines by their labels?  What are your wine label preferences?

About dslocicero

David is an author and architect living in the San Francisco Bay Area. He writes about wine, food and travel. His first book is Pour Me Another: An Opinionated Guide to Gold Country Wines, now one of the highest rated books about California Wines.