While it may not be up there with fostering a new winemaking region or conserving precious natural resources, those wine bottles with cute or downright sassy labels on grocery store shelves represent a fascinating innovation in wine marketing.
Winemakers wanted to buck the stereotype that wine was a fancy drink for refined palates only. One of the first wineries to try this technique was Boony Doon [source: Loutherback]. Back in the mid-'90s, they ditched their traditional wine label for an image of a man fishing, but hooking the boot-shaped country of Italy rather than a fish. When you turned the bottle around, you got a view of the same scene from behind.
Later, marketers began targeting millennials (those born after 1980) with modern label designs featuring logos like cupcakes or cute animals or with sassy names like Fat Bastard [source: Schultz]. Before that revolution, wines usually featured a bunch of grapes or a chateau on the labels. Appropriate, but not very relatable for younger consumers. The idea behind the quirky labels is to put consumers in the mindset to feel positive about the wine by associating it with something they already feel good about. This technique is called "priming" [source: Labroo].
Wine sales in general have been increasing in recent years and marketers are finding that an animal on the label often means a much bigger increase. A 2006 study found that wines with those adorable animal labels actually outsold other types of wine by a margin of two to one [source: Kakaviatos]! .