this theme wine labels and publications show trends in label design
as well as the changing shapes of wine bottles and glasses. Prominent
are the artwork and labels of eminent South Australian designer, Wytt
Morro, whose working life from the 1940s to the present is showcased
in an audio presentation. The theme
also includes some of the wonderfully quirky front covers of the Epicurean magazine
and some historical advertisements.
most of the enjoyment of drinking wine comes from the contents of
the bottle or other container, a number of things contribute to
its quality or the lack of it. Accessories, such as the glasses,
the corks or other stoppers, the corkscrews, as well as the information
supplied on the wine label, can enhance or detract from the pleasure
of drinking wine.
bottles, casks and decanters
antiquity wine was generally stored in amphorae, or large, usually
earthenware jars, and served in jugs. Glass vessels were available
tothe Romans but pottery and earthenware continued to be used for
serving wine. With the increase in technology and the introduction
of cork stoppers in the seventeenth century, glass containers began
to be used regularly.
early wine bottles were globular in shape with
a round base and were held in special stands
or baskets. Gradually the bottle took on a flatter
base and so became self-supporting. The bodies
were often onion- or balloon-shaped while the
necks varied from long to short, depending on
the preference of the particular country. In
the eighteenth century the shape became cylindrical
and this allowed the bottle to be "laid down" on
its side. Modern bottles have retained the basic
cylindrical shape but may vary according to the
type of wine or the practice of different countries.
Many German wine bottles, for instance, have
very elongated shapes.
amounts of wine are stored in wine casks or barrels.
These are usually of a commercial size used in
wineries although smaller casks are available
for home usage. In Australia the term wine cask
is used for wine packaged in a box, sometimes
known as "a bag in a box".
are used to prevent the air contaminating the
wine. Cork as a material was used in Roman times
although wood stoppers were more universally
used. With the revival of the glass industry
glass stoppers came to be used, as with decanters,
but these were expensive and so in the seventeenth
century cork developed as the popular means of
come in various lengths, depending on the type
of wine or local preference. Some particular
requirements are capsules for fortified wines
and 'champagne' corks for sparking wines, the
latter helping to retain the gas pressure.
techniques have seen the introduction of new
methods of closure such as plastic and composite
stoppers and the screwcap, such as the Stelvin
closure, which, although still controversial,
are becoming more popular.
first metal closure for wine was developed in France
in 1959. An article, "Stelvin" - evaluation of
a new closure for table wines", by B. Eric, D.A.
Leyland and B.C. Rankine, published in The Australian
grapegrower & winemaker for April 1976, gives results
of closures tested in Australia.
introduction of corks meant the necessity for
corkscrews. Over the centuries hundreds of designs
have been used, from the simple to the complicated
or ornate, from the inexpensive, mass-produced
types to the expensive and limited-edition varieties.
Special extractors are also required for 'champagne'
drinking vessel is the vital means by which the
drinker consumes the wine. Although it can by
made of a variety of materials, plain, uncoloured
glass which displays the appearance and taste
of a wine to the greatest advantage is desirable.
Wine glasses generally have a stem to allow for
the handling of the glass without affecting the
shapes are frequently used for different types
of wines. White and red table wines are generally
served in different size glasses, with white
wine in the smaller size, while Burgundy and
Bordeaux wines have their own particular shapes.
Port and sherry are mainly drunk from smaller
glasses, while brandy is presented in a balloon-shaped
vessel. The usage of some of these shapes may
have changed over the years. For instance, sparkling
wines used to be drunk from a coupe but, in order
to retain the 'sparkle', the flute is now more
James, in his 1952 book Wine
complained that Australian labels rarely did
what labels should do and that is "clearly indicate
the bottle's contents". Hopefully, the situation
has improved since James wrote his book, particularly
on the front label, although back labels can
often be filled with extraneous detail.
labels can be compared to the title-pages of
books; they are a means of identifying the background
of a bottle of wine. The information on the label
may tell us some or all of the following: the
winemaker, the country or region of the wine
or grapes, the wine style, the grape variety,
and the vintage or age of the wine. Under Australian
law, labels must state the percentage of alcohol
in the wine and the use of preservatives. Many
of them also provide useful consumer information,
such as how long the wine will keep and at what
temperature and with what food it should best
State Library of South Australia has been collecting
wine labels since the early 1970s and the collection
includes labels from many overseas countries
and from the other Australian states. The Library
is particularly strong in labels from South Australian
wineries as well as having a good representation
of other Australian and New Zealand material.
However, there are many gaps and we are always
looking for more, so donations are very welcome,
particularly for overseas labels.
a result of writing to wineries for permission
to reproduce labels on this website, a most generous
donation of over a hundred labels was received
from Santa Margherita S.p.A. of Italy, virtually
a complete set of current labels from their own
and sister companies, Kettmeir, S.M. Tenimenti
and Torresella, divided into wine types. This represents
an unparallelled view of an overseas winemaker's
output, and we would be delighted to receive further
labels have been around for a long time. Wine
jars in the tomb of King Tutankhamun (d.1352
BC) had labels with enough detail to satisfy
todays Australian labelling laws, except that
they didnt reveal the grape varieties. Possibly
the first paper wine labels were produced in
Germany in the 19th century, followed
by Champagne in France, where the great Champagne
houses produced dazzling labels in gold, silver,
bronze, blue and other colours.
Australia some of the earliest came from James
and William Macarthur of Camden Park. As
James died in 1867 they must have been printed
before that. The oval shaped label is bordered
by an elegant vine, inside which are the words "Australian
wine, Camden Park James & William Macarthur".
In the centre there is room for additional information
to be added by hand about the vintage and wine
style. Its simplicity and lack of information
is in stark contrast to many of todays elaborate
and verbose labels.
of the Australian landmark labels of the 1950s
Coonawarra Estate, with its stark yet eyecatching
image of the cellars, Penfolds
Grange with just lettering, Woodleys
Treasure Claret series from 1949 to 1956,
with reproduced historical prints, from Arthur
Chard, initiated by Tony Nelson, the managing
director of Woodley, designed by the leading
label designer Wytt
Morro and printed by Peter Teakle.
with label designers and printers like AQ Australia,
Precision Labels, Ian Kidd, Barrie Tucker, John
Rowland, Barbara Harkness and Collotype, South
Australia is leading the nation in label design.
labels have been chosen for a variety of reasons.
They include traditional and modern designs,
simple and ornate, colourful and subdued, as
well as those that depict fauna and flora, landscapes,
native emblems, Aboriginal motifs, historical
personalities, and images relating to the history
of individual wineries. There is a representative
selection of labels illustrating different wine
styles and grape varieties, wines from various
regions and notable vintages.
biggest boost to the collection came a few years
ago with the donation by Australias most influential
label designer, Wytt
Morro, of his collection of artwork, labels
and packaging designs. Wytts work for many Australian
winemakers from the 1950s on is without peer
and a unique snapshot of Australian wine label
design over 50 years.
and price lists
have been a major source of interesting design
work over the years. These are a couple of examples
of the historical ones for Yalumba, from Yalumba
and its people, by Rob Linn. Other
unusual examples of advertising are a bottle-shaped
car for Penfolds and a cake of "Californian
des grands vins fins. 1935.One of a series
of fine wine catalogues illustrated by individual
artists. This is one is by Darcy.]
of the wonderfully quirky front covers from this
now defunct magazine, from its beginning in May
1966 to its end in 1993. It was the first Australian
magazine devoted entirely to food and wine and
had a considerable influence on later food and