Not many people associate booze with wordplay. In fact, more often than not alcohol is the root cause of many linguistic downfalls. But for Marshoud Dababneh, the Co-founder and Creative Director of new wine brand, Letterwine, language is everything.
What initially started out as three label designs for a seasonal wine celebrating Mother’s and Father’s days soon multiplied into a whole typographical alphabet. “We started with MOR for mother, but then I noticed that you could spell out ROM as well. So I thought it would be a fun idea to have a whole pallet of wine where you could play around with the display and make words,” explains Marshoud.
Letterwine began in 2016 through collaboration between seasoned sommelier, Kenny Pellegrino, and Marshoud, Creative Director of advertising agency W20. The duo’s formula combines minimalist Scandinavian design with Zinfandel wine sourced from Puglia, in the heel of Italy. This mix of agency and winery is a simple, but potent pairing; Kenny and Marshoud’s mission to transform the basic bottle of wine into a design-led item has proven paramount to Letterwine’s recent success.
“We wanted to work with the wine as if it was a product from an interior design store like HAY or Muuto; we wanted to move away from the classic bottle and step it up a notch.”
The concept team behind Letterwine have worked hard to strip back the label design, leaving little but the single type, created originally from scratch; “an incredibly nerdy but satisfying pursuit” says Marshoud. What remains is something that is clean and simple which quite literally speaks for itself. The packaging’s minimalist aesthetics are there for good reason; “They have that Nordic look…We do believe that less is more. The cleanness is there because you want to spell something out, it’s not cool when you have a lot of noise around a wine label,” Marshoud notes.
As for the wine word games — there are currently 45 different labels to play around with. You can also experiment with creating your own personalised bottle bundles on Letterwine’s web shop; it’s basically Friday night pick ’n’ mix for the over 18s. Quite frankly it’s really hard to think of a better way to get a message across, excluding maybe alphabet spaghetti (but we’re probably a bit old for that and hopefully too sophisticated).
Letterwine’s typographical scrabble-fest might all sound a little kitschy, but Marshoud assures that there is depth to their bottles. “The wine has to be good; it’s not just a gimmicky concept, it’s also a wine that you would love to buy again.”
Building hands-on relationships with Italian wineries has been top of the agenda for Kenny, the son of an Italian. His on-the-ground experience at a winery in Montalcino and eight years of expertise as a buyer for GobiVin here in Denmark has enabled Letterwine to build a strong network of first-rate wineries that they can now pick and choose from.
With this strong foundation behind them and a recent successful summer stint as a pop-up shop – situated in the popular tourist hub Torvehallerne – the ambitious team are already planning their next move. “We also want to work with some smaller wineries that offer batches of limited wine,” enthuses Marshoud. The coming few months look to be exciting for Letterwine with an expansion into white and rosé wines, as well as some runs of limited reds opening up the collection further.
Response from customers has already been overwhelmingly encouraging; “People are telling us that we have reinvented the wine industry. It’s kind of crazy!” This passion for a playful, quality product is something with underlines Letterwine’s entire business model; “we believe wine shouldn’t be boring” smiles Marshoud, “because it’s part of our everyday life.” And we have to say, we totally concur.
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