The Steady Eye



One of life’s pleasures is a decent glass of wine.

And during the second glass, I like to do what people do to cornflake packets.

Read the label on the bottle.

Except in this case:

I couldn’t.

The front label was clear white with a star; while the back was a strange orange and green with lots of words in French and English.

But in small point and yes – you’ve guessed it – white type.

Aagh, the dreaded reverse.

Now this was a modern ‘blend of several grapes’-type wine so presumably the maker wanted a hip designer-type label.

No objection to that, in itself, but why load it with words I couldn’t read – in any language?

For information on this very wine, I was forced to turn to my mini bible – Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book – where it merited its own entry.

Now the type in this so-handy little book was the same size as on the label.

With one important difference.

Yep, black on a white page.

So I could read it in the same light and even under increasing alcohol…

Now lest you are thinking I’m flogging this baby too much, I’m not anti-reverse.

It’s a striking and impressive design tool for headlines; and to make a point elsewhere – but only when in large-enough type to enable you to read it.

Why produce anything that a customer can’t read?  It’s not only a waste of effort in the writing and production but, far worse, annoying and alienating.  One exception may be on food labels – when listing the dodgy ingredients that few will read closely if at all…

So why not take a hard look at your own stuff?  Ask for an objective response and find out if it’s fit for human eyes.  If not, how about a word with your designer..

Derek Williams


Ps: the wine was ‘Clos de los Siete’ from Argentina.  A Bordeaux-inspired creation from Michel Rolland, a wine guru who advises on the production of these modern ‘international’-type wines.

It was certainly enjoyable – big, opulent and jam-packed with fruit.  But a little manufactured and artificial.   And earning 91 points on the Parker Scale.  Just the kind of initially impressive but soulless wine Robert Junior advocates.