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Collecting Wine Labels


Wine labels are small works of collectable art. If removed from bottles you have consumed they are a reminder of happy times, convivial meals and travels.

You can collect labels from every wine you open, or just ones that take your fancy or make a collection on a theme. Themes could be all the wines from one winery, labels with picture of flowers, bicycles, people, motor vehicles, punning names and so on. Or wines from a particular country or region. How about a label from every winery in the Napa Valley, or other small region?

I started to collect labels from the wineries which had been part of the 1855 classification of the Medoc, Bordeaux. Another idea is to collect different grape varieties. This starts off easy but soon you will be experiencing the thrill of the hunt as you track down more obscure wines.

Some people collect labels from wines they haven’t tasted. They write to wineries around the world for samples and swap labels with other collectors. I did so when needing perfect labels for including in my book Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape. But top wineries are becoming unwilling to give away unused labels to collectors because there has been an increase in fraudulent wines. They don’t want to make it easy to stick a legitimate label on a bottle of cheap wine. For the same reason top wineries are making it difficult to remove labels from their bottles without noticeably damaging the label.

Having built up a collection, what should be done with them? A collection of rare or famous labels can be framed and hung in pride of place on the wall of your dining room. Or take large wall map of a wine region and stick labels around the edge, and draw a line leading to the location of the winery. I just keep my labels in photograph albums of the sort with a sticky page covered with a plastic sheet.

A common use for labels is in decoration and artwork. They’ve been used to cover coffee tables, lamp shades, kitchen units and even to wallpaper the ‘smallest room’.

Do you collect wine labels? Tell us on our forum.





Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape, also available for the Kindle.





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