If you're new here, a word about this, "Judging Wines by their Label" section. I'm a designer, not a wine professional, but I drink a lot of it. As with anything I do in life, it's never half assed, and so if I'm gonna drink wine I want to be knowledgable about it. That said, I know NOTHING about wine. Cocktails, yes. I can have a discussion about. Food, I know a thing or two. I know a lot about design, letterpress and branding. Wine... nope. I grew up in an Italian-American family with basket Chianti and gallon jugs of Carlo Rossi. I still put ice cubes in my red wine, and no there's nothing wrong with that. This section is a record of my attempts to write about wine in a slightly knowledgable, yet approachable way, while casting a very critical design eye to their packaging.
Looking for wines I love, that are hopefully cheap and preferably with eye catching design. Just a little ol' wine drinker me,
First, What's up with the Garnacha / grenache, you ask? Real easy, Grenache is French and a grape you tend to see in Cote d' Rhones. Garnacha is the spanish way of saying it. Much like most things in this life, I prefer the Spanish version to the French. In my head, the french version is said by an old yiddish grandmother, like it's something to cure whooping cough, "Hey bubby, you got some grenache? I just can't seem to shake this cough". Whereas the Spanish way sounds like you've broken out the maracas, there's already a party and you havent even started drinking yet. "La Cucaracha! Drink some Granacha! Duh nuh na na na na na nah..." (you know the song!)
Nose: I don't know...blackberry? Have you ever actually smelled blackberries? Also.. when “wine people” refer to the nose are they talking about the idea of what blackberries smell like or what blackberries ACTUALLY smell like
Taste: I tend to find some Garnacha (or grenache) wines to be very jammy. And by “jammy” i mean it has a sugary sweet/sour taste that makes you “jam” your nose, mouth and cheeks together into a pucker. You’re not really sure why and sometimes the facial motions are involuntary… but you do really like the wine. That intense “jam”, isn't really present here. It's just smooth, super drinkable. A little fruity and a little spice.
Theres a little clove on the nose and the finish. Like the wine that was next to the mulled wine. You know what I’m talking about…. like when the bin of sesame bagels is next to the everything bagels and your sesame bagel gets a little hint of that everything magic. Yeah, that!
The label is printed on a pearlized metallic midnight-blue stock, something like a Neenah Stardream (Remember, I'm a letterpress printer. I geek out on paper stocks). The pearlized coat gives it a nice metallic sheen, which which helps it stand out on the shelf, but also makes it extraordinarily hard to photograph. The black squiggly lines are actually printer's flourishes (like the ornamental stuff you see on proclamations, certificates and menus from the turn of the 19th century), Normally I'd be all about that but it comes off as a little Ryan Mcguinness* meets 2006 emo-pop album cover (See: The Used, From First to Last, AFI, Cute Is What We Aim For, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, or Plain White T’s.)†
There is a ligature between the "o" and "d" in evodia, which I appreciate. I'm betting the designer saw it as alluding to a grape stem or something. I get it.
Design / Copywriting Bonus Points: There's a snarky "What, Where, Why, and How" on the label, with the"Why" telling you that "garnacha this good is usually twice the price" and the "How" suggesting you should just drink it out of the bottle. Oh... and it's printed in two languages, Spanish and English. There's a lot of things to love about this wine, but this might be my favorite.
Giant Squid Overall score: 91 Points
*Oh my god!! やばい！I just looked up Ryan Mcguiness… and he’s STILL making the same art with the swashes and the taxidermy deer antler cartoons!! Wow!! Throw him in to the same box as Wes Anderson and label it “People who need a new idea because their shit is TIRED”
† If you really want a trip down design mistake memory lane go here: 21 EMO ALBUMS YOU DEFINITELY OWNED IN 2006 (I can proudly say I did not own ANY of them)
‡ COSPA is a category I got from Tabelog, the Japanese restaurant review site. It stands for COSt PerformAnce and represent the perceived value for the money spent or quality vs price paid. It is totally subjective, and yet easily one of the informative and referenced metrics. For example, this wine, the Evodia garnacha would (and does) have a very high COSPA rating, because as the label says in Spanish and English, "a wine of this quality could easily sell for double the price." (I'd go as far as to say possibly triple.)