On the importance of back labels

Dear Sherry producers,

Sherry sales, I hardly need tell you, are not going in the right direction. Prices are not what they might be and sooner or later even I, a dedicated fan and promoter of Sherry, will stop buying sherry. Permanently. In the meantime I spend more time than is either decent or strictly allowed by timetables defending Sherry to WSET students who dismiss it as “irrelevant” and learn about it only under sufferance. 

A product that is so thoroughly exciting and of such great quality surely deserves recognition and market share. This labelling though really does explain a good deal.  Perhaps the students are right after all. 

If you know what the wine is then the front label does its job well. The Matusalem brand name standing out clearly and legibly. If you don’t know the wine and want to understand how dry, or how sweet, it is before committing around A$40 per half bottle to buying it, then you’d naturally turn to the back label.  In which case I wish you good luck.

Dominated by the certificate of origin and the barcode the back label’s human readable information is in such small type and at such low contrast that it is functionally useless. Yes, I do need glasses for reading but then nearly everyone who is likely to be buying $80 bottles of Sherry will be wearing glasses. Even with the zoom power of an iphone’s camera it is hard to read.  When you do manage to read it, the information is genuinely unhelpful. The students are right. 

The back label needs to be something more than a home for a whacking great barcode; it should tell consumers what the wine tastes like, how to serve it and with what food.  Some basic information to get that first sale.  Get that first sale and you’ve likely got a customer for life; this is great value sherry of extraordinary quality.  So why do you make it so hard to buy? It is not as though you are short of it.  

If back label space is at such a premium then perhaps use a QR code to link through to your website.  We’ve all got used to QR codes of late, they are no longer a mystery to anyone.  Unlike the contents of this bottle.