As a true passion product, wine demands labelling that beckons customers to ‘try me and fall in love.’  Wine labels must be not only appealing but alluring.

This emphasis on aesthetics flies in the face of an inconvenient truth: Wine labelling is hard. Even while standing out on cluttered racks, wine labels must stand up to atypical, often long-term performance scenarios. A wine labeller’s worst nightmare is an elegant, eye-catching label losing all luster as its edges start to call, its embossing starts to bubble, and… Houston, we have lift off, and not in a good way.

Here’s how to avoid the dreaded “Label Lift”.


Select the right label stock.

For premium design flexibility, consider pressure-sensitive technology, which offers the broadest spectrum of brand-differentiating options for stock, coatings and adhesives. Pressure-sensitive labels enable brilliant graphics, die-cuts and virtually invisible edge lines, and can incorporate a wide array of papers including bright, gloss white, laid and style. Another attractive possibility is clear film, offering a chic ‘no label’ look.


Choose label size and shape carefully.

Consider both width and height limitations based on label substrate, bottle size & shape, and application system – including the size of application pads. There are several industry guidelines recommending optimum label size and position to avoid peeling or lifting.

Here, success lies in merging your aesthetic and functional ideals. Remember that increasing a label’s size also increases its lift force and risk of bubbling. The smaller your label, the shorter the adhered label edge distance will be from its flat, natural state. The longer the label, the likelier the lift.


Consider the effects of embossing and embellishments.

For ideal adhesion, labels need sufficient, uniform pressure across the bottle surface. Heavy embossing and embellishment change not only a paper’s physical characteristics, but also its adhesive effectiveness. Since embossing reduces the surface contact of the label’s underside to the bottle, consider a permanent adhesive with higher tack.

Also, mechanically embossed labels have reduced adhesion contact area – the greater the emboss, the smaller the adhesion zone. Adhesive contact areas under 50% are at risk of compromised performance. Your embossing design can also be a factor – for example, horizontal lines can further stiffen label stock, while other patterns exert less pressure.

Additionally, heavy hot or cold stamping may affect release liner performance by weakening part of the web. PET liner materials offer more resistance to strong embossing techniques.


Control your ink build and varnish.

High ink build and heavy varnish cause label tension and increase stiffness, which can impact adhesion wipe-down pressure. Increased label stiffness means more overall resistance to bend, a risk that increases as you approach the label edge.

Varnish is important, however, as it protects the label image during transportation and consumer handling. Especially for paper-based labels, varnishing reduces moisture absorption from the surrounding environment and – critical especially for whites and sparkling wines – refrigeration or ice bucket exposure.