Minimalist Inspired Wine Labels Break From All the Right Traditions


In a recent paper titled, “Decoding wine label design: A study of the visual codes of Bordeaux Grand Crus,” three researchers set out to decode some of the most prestigious wine labels of all. The paper analyzes commonly used fonts, images, colors and text used on these prestigious wine labels as well as the meaning behind them. Using science and psychology, these researchers have cracked the code on the perfect combination to communicate great importance through wine label design.

The wine world has seemingly stood still since the beginning of time in regard to taste, bottling, and design. However, a recent push towards progress has been made as evidenced by the introduction of alternative wines, screw tops, and even boxed wines. The recent (and in our opinion, necessary) break from tradition has led to a fresh new look in wine label designs.

To distance themselves from the prestige, wealth, and history of traditional wine labels, new aged designers have taken to a minimalist approach. This new approach parallels the chosen style of millennials. Millennials + minimalism go hand in hand.

The Minimalist movement, a post-World War II Western art movement began around the 1960s and managed to turned everything upside down until it was drained completely. Artists began to ask the question, “How much is necessary and how can we strip everything else?” The popular approach to art shifted from subjective to objective with little to no self-expression.

And like our influencers of today, there are a few key players of the minimalist movement. Frank Stella shook things up with his paintings that he believed were “a flat surface with paint on it — nothing more.” Composers like John Cage and Steve Reich influenced the music scene with experimental pieces that redefined the perceptions of “music” and used a minimal amount with an emphasis on repetition.

And as the saying go, “History is bound to repeat itself,” we are seeing these 1960s trendy elements in wine label designs today. Minimalist inspired designs of geometric shapes, repetition, and neutral surfaces populate our Instagram feeds today.

The parallel between rebelling against the traditional norms of visual art of the 1950s and rebelling against the traditional norms of wine labels cannot go unnoticed. As more bottles are labeled with less information, the archaic wine world looks to be adopting the minimalist approach to design.

We’re celebrating minimalist wine label design that signifies class, prestige and experience in a new way with our top 4 minimalist wine labels that would make Frank Stella himself cheers to the simple goodness:

Zaha Hadid for Leo Hillinger.jpg
The more stuff in it, the busier the work of art, the worse it is. More is less. Less is more. Ad Reinhardt

Limited edition with only 999 bottles created, this design is altogether minimally lovely. Renowned architect Zaha Hadid dreamed up this beauty for Leo Hillinger special edition wine. In the Grand Cru study, researchers found “96% of the labels used a centered layout with all label elements centered on a central and vertical axis.” This placement helped to convey to buyers “seriousness, prestige, notoriety…” We’re loving that Hillinger didn’t just move the placement of the label and it’s element, but rather voted to completely rid the bottle of the label. We think he still succeeded in communicating “seriousness, prestige, notoriety...” too.  

 @Inkwell Wine

@Inkwell Wine

“There is a poetic nature to minimalism that is about striking a balance between full and empty.” Jennie C. Jones

This South Australian wine, from Inkwell Wines, breaks the mold of traditional imagery used to convey all the necessary high class points to wine drinkers. In the Grand Crus study, researchers found over half of the labels contained images of castles while a little less than a third used a coat of arms. These traditional images conveyed “nobility, social distinction, and craft work” to buyers. So long castles and coat of arms, inkblots are the new thing image for nobility, social distinction and craft work.  



“Don’t ask what the work is. Rather, see what the work does.” Eva Hesse

Researchers of the Grand Crus study found that over half of the wine labels used white paper with black, red, grey and gold text. “Other colors such as green, blue, pink, violet are almost never used.” These colors cannot convey the “luxury, elegance, social distinction…” of the traditional colors. However, in this bold, yet delightfully minimalist design, the Spanish white wine, Priorat, conveys all the social distinction, luxury and elegance one wine will ever need.  

 @Vin Sec Carre Wine Design Depot

@Vin Sec Carre Wine Design Depot

“But, after all, the aim of art is to create space - space that is not compromised by decoration or illustration.” Frank Stella

These Vin Sec Carre Wine Label Designs pay a beautiful tribute to minimalist influencers like Kelly Ellsworth and Frank Stella. While using traditional colors found on Grand Crus bottles, these squares sans the traditional text demand a new kind of respect and admiration of the wine bottle.