Paper… What would have become of mankind if the Chinese eunuch Cai Lun, considered the inventor of paper, had not looked to the bark of trees to test and perfect the material that had hitherto been used to write documents. His invention, a material very similar to today’s paper, which was called “Cai paper”, was flexible, strong, cheap and could be mass-produced.
If there is one thing we know for sure, it is that a lot of rain has fallen since then, in 105 A.D., but research into new materials has never ceased. As has Grupo Argraf’s commitment to selecting the most suitable material for each project. Paper is not only a support, but the element that, in a very subtle way, enhances and adds value to the final product to enrich the design.
The design-paper tandem must go hand in hand, otherwise one or the other can spoil the result. The choice of materials is extremely important, because choosing the wrong paper, with the wrong tones or texture, can destroy a great design.
Sustainability, texture, impermeability, durability… There are many properties that a paper must have to become a wine label. And at Grupo Argraf, with 900 million bottles labelled, they scrutinise them in depth to choose the option that best combines all of them.
As Alberto Torroba, CEO of Argraf explained in this article, wine labels today should not only impress by sight, but also by touch. And this is achieved by using velvety textures, rich and natural materials… Each paper tells a story, dresses a product and plays a fundamental role in the personality of the brand. In other words, the paper chosen for the label greatly influences consumers’ perception when buying a wine, interpreting it as a “top” wine or a low quality one.
Why has paper reigned supreme in the label industry for decades? There are many reasons, but here are a few common ones.
- It allows for a wide variety of printing and finishes: this provides the designer with a wide creative universe.
- Textures: paper is to the touch as design is to the eye. A carefully chosen texture can tell a whole story.
- Sustainable: the paper used in Argraf comes from responsibly managed forests and is recyclable.
Which papers are the most suitable for wine labels?
It is difficult to answer, as the paper sector is too large. But if there is one thing we are sure of, it is that, at present, the most important efforts for paper selection are focused on the area of Quality and Environment.
Argraf has the FSC Certified seal, which guarantees that the origin of the paper used comes from forestry operations that are correctly managed in terms of the environment. The inks are also made from renewable and organic raw materials and the papers are ecological or have a minimum environmental impact.
If we look at the type of texture, the most common are coated paper (or couché), a microporous paper with a smooth and soft finish, which is one of the most commonly used; uncoated paper, with a rougher and more porous finish than coated paper; and, finally, laid paper, a type of paper in which you can see the transversal stripes or marks that can be of varying thickness, caused by the wires that press the pulp in the production process.
Continuing with the list, we find the Tintoretto papers, and here we have two types, Tintoretto Black, designed especially for glass containers as it has a high resistance to immersion, crucial if we think of labels for sparkling wines, white wines, rosés or any other that requires refrigeration or contact with ice. And Tintoretto Unc, a matt, striated, elegant paper, ideal for quality wines. Its qualities make it perfect for embossing and printing.
Metallised paper, mainly silver or gold in colour, is used for high quality labels. It has a metallised foil on which the print is made. And pearlescent paper with pearlescent pigments adds quality to the result.
In addition, the paper can be subjected to ultra WS treatments or moisture-resistant paper, which absorbs water without breaking down, or choose waterproof paper, which repels moisture while maintaining its whiteness, a perfect paper for wine cellars, chilled wines or beers.
It is clear that the choice of paper is almost as wide as the needs of each project. Before selecting the paper, it is necessary to define the story we want to convey. This is a collaborative work in which the design team, the winery-customer and Grupo Argraf must combine their experience. Ours is more than 70 years working in the world of labelling. No limits to your creativity.