November 28, 2007

Wine and Photography

By Andrew Barrow In Articles
Alsace Bottle Top I’ve been a little disappointed by the posts on Chateau Photogasm.

Don’t get me wrong though. I think the concept is great – original, unique, fascinating and often thought-provoking. I just wish they would take the photographs themselves rather than trawling through photo galleries * to find something that ‘fits’. Don’t suppose many have Sophia Loren to call on for a quick snap though.

I’m not sure how much thought goes into selecting the images (I’ve been criticised for thinking too much) but at the very least they make you pause and reflect or try and decipher what they are trying to say. Non-traditional wine tasting notes at the very best.
The internet is a visual medium. To throw in a cliché ‘a picture says a thousand words’. When I am in a buying mode for wine I really, really need to see the bottle – many wine retailers don’t display such pictures. I wonder how detrimental this is to sales?

Robert at WineConversation seems to agree on the visual impact that is so imperative to wine communication.

Is there nothing different today than there was 2, 10, 20, 50 years ago? I think there is, and we need to think about the visual language of how we get this across”.

He seems to be more concerned with capturing the essence of a wine brand than a tasting note though. While Rob poses some interesting questions he fails to look at the reason for a picture. Is the image for advertising, to sell the wine, or to simply describe it, as on a blog post or in a newspaper article?

He compares wine with perfume and the visuals that conjure a feeling for a brand (ignore the fact that most are pretentious to the extreme). Perfume adverts end with a picture of the bottle. I don’t think many marketing agencies or producers would be willing to spend millions and not get the product displayed prominently. What would people look for in the shops?
If it is more for a generic feeling, then words matter. I don’t think much would be imparted by, for example, using this image of mine to promote or describe a wine. (Just substitute the bowl with a glass or a bottle).

What is needed then? Props? Location?
Using images you get context perhaps or plant ‘ideas’ such as food matching suggestions but you need to see the product. And you need words to describe a wines taste; despite the likes of Petrogasm.

* as was my original impression and the background to a fun little blog event I organised.

  1. robert November 28, 2007

    thanks for the response Andrew.
    I will need to clarify my own question it seems, but certainly it is great to get a conversation going about this.
    I think visual tasting notes are great too, and, like you, I think the concept is good but that Chateau Petrogasm isn’t as inventive as it was a short while ago, largely through not creating their own images.
    I started off with my premise being about brand communication, so I was thinking of advertising and communication with consumers about what wine and/or the brand say about themselves, rather than a description of the taste of wine.
    Taking the perfume example again, perfume is ABOUT sexiness, it isn’t about “smelling of roses/mustangs/cat sick/etc.”
    Wine isn’t JUST about the taste. If it was, why pay more for certain brands? They have more things associated with them and we just do not use this.
    I am now straying into post length comments, so I will respond again chez moi soon.
    thanks again

  2. Robert December 3, 2007

    I have added some further thoughts and clarifications to my own blog at
    I have also ‘borrowed’ one of your great photos (with attribution). I hope that is OK, but let me know if you want this changed.


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