Evolution of the Liquor Label

22 Mar.,2023


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Long ago, Ancient Romans stored wine in clay pots. They called these pots amphorae. While glassblowing techniques had already been discovered, the glass produced was too fragile to effectively house and transport wine. And much like wine drinkers of today, the Romans hated losing their wine due to broken bottles! They used amphorae until the paths of Roman soldiers crossed with the Gauls of modern-day France. These ingenious folks were found to be using oak barrels with metal hoops to transport beer. Aha! thought the Roman soldiers. If the Gauls could use wooden barrels to safely move beer, there was no reason the Romans couldn’t use the same vessels to haul wine over the long distances they traveled while expanding the empire for Rome. And just like that, military campaigns to far-off lands became so much more bearable. Roman soldiers hauled and rolled intoxicating beverages with them as they conquered. The barrels were unmarked, but all the soldiers knew the contents were wet and intoxicating, which was good enough for them.

European merchants witnessed the Roman soldiers with wine and beer in tow and thought to themselves, if the Romans can do it, so can we! And thus began a new era of storing spirits in large wooden barrels.

In the 1600s, glass bottles with cork stoppers made an appearance. Over time, the strength of the glass, and the efficiency of production, improved. By 1615, housewives were bottling home-brewed beer in glass bottles. Unfortunately, the same bottles were used to store soda water or mineral water and were typically unmarked. These women relied on sight and smell to discern the contents of the bottle.

In the 1700s, the glass bottle became the container of choice for wine. But wine lovers the world over wanted answers to such questions as, “What type of wine is contained in this bottle?” and “From what wine-producing region is this wine coming?” Something was needed.


After centuries of unmarked clay pots, barrels, and glass bottles, the time had finally arrived to apply labels to wine, beer, and spirits.

Today, labels do much more than answer simple questions like What? and Where? In addition to bearing all the important content and legal information, they serve as a mini marketing department right there on the liquor store shelf. What prompts people to purchase this bottle of wine over that bottle of wine? This bottle of brandy over that? Labels. While ancient Roman soldiers or residents of Gaul might not have been picky about the maker or contents of their barreled beverages, today’s wine, beer, and spirit lovers tend to care about things such as taste and texture.

Labels inform. They detail such things as where a beer was brewed, the alcohol content of a spirit, or the age of a wine. Labels also draw people in. They tell a story and set an expectation. The design, feel, and overall appearance of a label can be the difference between a bottle being plucked off the shelf or passed over for something more interesting.

Label Works is an expert at helping customers come up with the perfect label. Our printing process allows for photographic quality printing. We offer low minimums, which are perfect for seasonal, varietal changes, prototypes, or regional testing. We also offer premium stocks that hold up beautifully in wet ice buckets. State-of-the-art adhesive ensures labels stay on the bottle, even when submerged. Machine-applied labels are a snap, too. Foil options are a wonderful way to catch the eye of potential purchasers. Custom laser-cut shapes also offer limitless possibilities with shape.

Call Label Works today at 1-800-522-3558 to speak to one of our label experts about the wide array of options we offer for wine, beer, and spirit labels.

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