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Surprising Science

How Wine Labels Sucker You Into Buying

Particularly for people who are new to wine, the design of the label can affect both the bottle’s ability to attract attention and the perceived flavor.

What’s the Latest Development?

A new book by wine packaging designer David Schuemann describes how a label can help determine not only whether a customer will purchase a bottle of wine, but how much they will enjoy the wine once they’re drinking it. While more expensive wines tend to have simple, minimalist designs — so that “experienced wine drinkers [don’t] think it looks cheap” — the less expensive ones often favored by new drinkers bear much more colorful and creative labels so that they call attention to themselves. If there’s foil on the bottle, the color can provide beginners with a hint as to what to expect in terms of flavor, says Schuemann: “A red foil communicates berries, while a green or yellow foil says buttery or tropical flavors are inside.”

What’s the Big Idea?

All of this, plus more, represents good old-fashioned subliminal marketing at work. A 2007 study found that test subjects who thought they were drinking a more expensive wine enjoyed it more than they did a less expensive wine, even when the two were identical. Schuemann says similar consumer research further confirmed this observation: “The more they like the label, they more they like the wine.”

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Read it at NPR


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