QR Codes in the Wine Industry – Helping the Buying Experience

If you haven’t already seen them, QR (Quick Response) codes are one of the latest technologies that have started popping up on wine labels. Whilst not exactly new (they have been around since ‘94), I’m thinking that over the next year or two this type of technology is going to become extremely prevalent, especially in the wine industry.

QR codes, which look like a pixelated black and white square, come to us from Japan (of course) where they apparently are common-place. The codes essentially are used to store data, including website links, coordinates or text, and all you have to do is point and click your cell phone to access the info (once you have installed the appropriate app). There are a multitude of different apps out there, some are better than others but all doing basically the same thing. I personally use Quickmark on my Android phone.

If you have never seen a QR Code before, check out the picture below. The code is the pixelated square toward the bottom left.

Cliff Raven Torrontes - QR Code is the small pixelated box toward the bottom left of the photo

The Practical Application of QR Codes

First and foremost, the two major bonuses behind creating QR codes for a business is that they are free and very easy to generate. This is a good start to help with easy adoption of the technology, but I’m going to propose that the future rests solely in the hands of the businesses that are choosing to adopt early i.e. NOW!

If wineries / wine brands (or indeed any other type of business) takes the time to label using a QR code, but then only have them link to their main website, I honestly don’t believe that the general public is going to get excited about the product. I suggest that in order for this technology to succeed, businesses need to reward those that take the time to point and click.
Here are a few ideas:

-A direct web link to a short video explaining very briefly about the product. For a wine it would be something along the lines of “So you want to learn more about wine X?….it comes from wine region Z…it tastes like…it can be paired with….". For obvious reasons the video should be short, catchy and  straight-to-the-point.

-A link to a custom landing Page on Facebook, therefore killing two birds with one stone: informing the consumer about the product and also giving them the chance to further engage the brand through social media.

-A web link to a coupon or voucher off the purchase of that particular product.

-Any other benefit that could not be otherwise gained without taking the time to click the code. Help the potential customer make an informed purchase decision about your product!



The Future

It has already been stated in the media that visual search applications such as Google Goggles could potentially threaten the future of the QR code, and if you haven’t already heard of Google Googles I suggest you check it out (it’s very impressive)! The basic premise (and to use a wine brand as an example), is that once the application is installed to your phone, all you have to do is take a photo of the front label, the app recognizes text and leads you into a specific Google search for that product. Other benefits of the app include foreign language translation and the ability to take a photo of a business card and upload the info direct to your contacts.
If you want to learn more about Google Goggles click here

The main benefit that QR Codes have over this type of technology is that the brand is in much more control of what content the user is seeing. Rather than just leading you into a general search, QR codes direct you to a specific web address.

I for one am a big fan of this type of technology, but I truly do believe that if consumers who adopt the QR technology are not rewarded with a valuable, engaging and even fun experience, the humble pixelated black and white box will surely die a long drawn-out painful death.


  • December 14, 2010

    Sunny Global Diva

    I’d use this type of app if it lead me directly to useful info about the wine…like you say, a fb page or tasting notes or something. Speaking of notes…as a wine expert, do you prefer tasting notes on a bottle label? As a wine-loving non-expert member of the general public, sometimes I get frustrated if I don’t see any on a bottle that interests me, but then I think to myself that a lack of notes is maybe better because it forces me to find things in the wine on my own.

  • December 14, 2010

    Kris Chislett

    Totally agree, the info needs to be relevant and quick to access. No-one wants to spend all day pointing and clicking their phone at several wine bottle before they make their choice!
    I am split on tasting notes: on one hand they provide a useful insight into the flavor profile of a wine, however I’ve also seen people become disillusioned when they cannot taste the various flavor components that are listed.

    People also need to remember that tasting notes on the backs of bottles are obviously written by the same marketing company that is trying to sell you the wine. The most overused word I see is “Chocolate” on the back labels of Cabernet’s. Great marketing, because who doesn’t want to taste chocolate in a wine!?!?
    When I do my wine reviews, I try to keep the tasting notes to a minimum, just enough to give people an idea of what they are tasting, but also letting people make up their own mind because after all everyone’s palate is different.

  • December 15, 2010

    Philippe hugon

    Great post. You might like to try http://vincod.com
    It’s currently in french. English version next week.
    The vincod helps wineries create instantly a qrcode leading to a web page presenting the wine.
    This program has been developped by vinternet, a digital Agency specialized in the WINE industry in France since 95.
    It is free fo up to 10 vincods
    Would Love to have your feedback

  • December 17, 2010

    Kris Chislett

    Thanks Philippe! Very cool, I joined your Facebook Page. May just have to brush up on my French a little now though! :)

  • December 18, 2010

    Sunny Global Diva

    Thanks for the reply. I don’t like descriptions like “chocolate” since I don’t find them helpful! It helps me more if the description says something like say, “light-bodied” or “thin” or “chewy” because in such a case, I have a clearer picture of what I’m in for and I can pick better based on what my intentions are (something for a dish I’m preparing versus something I’m drinking almost as a meal in and of itself).

    That said, my husband bought a wine tonight for our roasted duck dinner. It’s a Cab. And on the label, it’s compared to chocolate–I had to laugh.

  • December 18, 2010

    Kris Chislett

    I told you!!! :)

  • December 18, 2010

    Philippe hugon

    I should be posting in English more often, i will

  • June 7, 2011

    Zoe Geddes-soltess

    Hey Kris, I agree that if wineries are going to use QR codes, they need to focus on creating a unique experience for the customer. You have a lot of great suggestions here! Thanks for hooking me up with your article :)

    Zoe Geddes-Soltess
    Community Engagement, Radian6

  • February 8, 2012


    That’s cool!
    QR Codes in the Wine Industry
    Great idea!

  • February 1, 2023

    Cloud QR Code Generator

    QR codes can help businesses. I appreciate sharing this article about QR codes in the wine industry helping the buying experience.

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