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How Fancy Wine Labels Trick People

In his new book 99 Bottles of Wine, David Schuemann of CF Napa Brand Design, spills the industry's secrets about how wine labels trick us into grabbing a bottle off the shelf. In a recent interview on NPR, Schuemann admitted, "We always make a wine look about $10 more expensive than it is. So then it appears like an even better value. We add gold foil to the label or a gold stamping. We emboss the label or add a third dimension to give it a rich texture or tactile feel."

No part of the bottle is wasted for these subliminal mind tricks. Even that little piece of metal at the top of the bottle gets jazzed up with a fancy print, a sophisticated stripe or subtle sparkles. "Then people tend to perceive the wine as more expensive because so much care has gone into even the foil," Schueman adds.

And that label can trick your tongue, too. "We've done some consumer research in which we poured the same wine for people, but from different bottles," he says. "The more they like the label, they more they like the wine." There's actually some real scientific evidence to back up his ideas. Several years ago researchers found that when people think they're drinking a $90 bottle, pleasure centers in the brain are more active than when they're sipping on a $5 wine—even when the two wines are actually identical.

Possible Preaching Angles: (1) Temptation; Sin; Satan—Isn't this what always happens with temptation? Our sinful flesh or demonic powers slap a label on sin that always makes it look and "taste" better than it actually is.

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