Summer 2010

Drink me

Wine Labels

Index Book, £48

From its cork-finished covers to its wine-bottle proportions, Eduardo del Fraile’s Wine Labels looks and feels very good. If it were a wine, you might say it had rich Spanish flavours with a trace of designer minimalism.

But if you can’t always judge a book by its cover (tactile or otherwise), how much can you judge a bottle of wine by its label? This is a specialised area of graphic design that contains as many typographic codes, ‘heritage’ influences and marketing pressures these days as book cover design.

For example, a bottle might look classsically French – with a label using script lettering and decorative serifs, all in a centred arrangement with a vignette drawing of the chateau. But on closer inspection the wine is from elsewhere: global industry imitating the local terroir.

Wine Labels is organised in three parts: it begins with a selection of different bottle shapes, all photographed without labels. The centre section contains 60 pages of wonderful old labels from the collections of José Luis Silleras and the Barcelona printer Juan Armadams. Here the book’s Spanish roots show, with ornate illustrated labels or decorative typographic ones such as a Moscatel from 1920.

The final 190 pages show contemporary commercial labels from around the world, from the modernist and typographic to the witty and illustrated. Among them are designs for the winemaker Telmo Rodriguez by Fernando Gutiérrez and label designs by Joan Josep Bertran.

First published in Eye no. 76 vol. 19 2010


Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It is available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions and single issues.