Back Label Turn-Offs

Back Label Turn-Offs
Back labels are now usual on wine. One label must hold the information legally required, the other label can be used to tell consumers what to expect from the wine and most also suggest food pairings.

The introduction of back labels coincided with the democratisation of wine drinking. New drinkers unfamiliar with wine names showed their appreciation of wines that explained themselves on a back label by purchasing them and other wines followed suit.

A recent survey by Cornell University has shown that some suggestions are turn offs. A note that a wine is good with pasta is the worst as the majority of American consumers assumed a ‘goes with pasta’ wine was bad and to be avoided.

Italian winemakers must be scratching their heads. After being encouraged by importers to add back labels (which are unnecessary in Italy as everyone knows that wine goes with pasta) they printed English language explanations that proudly state the obvious to them affinity with pasta only to discover it’s losing sales.

On white wines, ‘crisp’ is a surprising turnoff. A desirable word is ‘smooth’ which is wine code for sweetish.

I’m noticing more food matching suggestions that name dishes I need to look up in the internet to discover what they are. Do people really cook such recipes to go with their inexpensive supermarket pick?

I think it is more that it suggests that we the purchaser is someone who not only knows what the dish is, but regularly cooks and eats it, that we are a sophisticated gourmet who knows about wine and food.

So we grab the bottle from the shelf as we head home late after a long hard day at work and pour a glass as we toast a slice of bread, grate cheese on it, bubble it under a hot flame and eat it in front of the TV.

Talk about wine 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.

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