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Wine & spirits label printing: this is how it’s done

Labels Wine & spirits label printing: this is how it’s done


by Danny Mertens

Not one label is the same - different applications require different digital technology, which is precisely why printing is such an exciting business. Pharma, food, beverages, durables, health & beauty or industrial chemicals: every label comes with its own aesthetic and functional requirements. In this article, we focus on wine & spirits labels, which are often printed on challenging materials and are subject to high-end embellishments.

Dry toner for wine & spirits labels

Technically, wine & spirits labels are among the most challenging for any label converter. They require printing technology that is capable of delivering high-quality labels on a wide range of substrates with different embellishments. For these circumstances Xeikon recommends its dry toner printing processes over water-based, UV inkjet or even liquid toner.

Dry toner excels in three key areas which are important for wine & spirit label converters:

1) Wine & spirits substrates

A broad range of substrates is used in wine & spirits, from synthetic, coated paper to the most challenging natural, structured papers. The last one, a very porous material, can only be printed on properly with dry toner as it doesn’t require any pre-conditioning or primer prior to printing. Any liquid ink is absorbed by the facestock and, as a result, will degrades in color strength. Incidentally, applying a primer is always difficult as the layer gets partly absorbed by the paper. Dry toner, on the other hand, sits on top of the paper, is not absorbed and keeps its color strength.

2) Embellishment modules

Spot varnish and foiling are common processes for wine & spirits labels and make them really stand out. Due to the absence of solvents, fuser oils or other liquids, dry toner is compatible with any kind of process (spot varnish, cold foil, hotfoil). Moreover, embellishments can be handled digitally too, using Xeikon’s Fusion technology, a unique solution of digital combination printing. It combines full color digital production printing with digital embellishment of labels and packaging in a single, one-pass and fully digital production process.

A print job is dropped in a hotfolder, RIP’ed and the different channels are sent to the relevant Fusion modules, including the press, without further manual intervention. Because every embellishment module is digital, every single design element in the design can be made variable or personalized, which opens up huge opportunities for new applications.

3) High image quality

Wine & spirits frequently boast fine details, making image quality crucial. The dry toner printing process has a print resolution of 1200 dpi where several particles create one image dot and where the toner is transferred to the exact position over and over, very consistently. The result is impeccable. With water-based or UV inkjet one drop creates the actual image - any variation to the position and size has immediate effect on the quality. Consequently, when high-quality labels are required UV inkjet is less suitable.


Considering to print your wine & spirits labels digitally, in line with the market demands? Then a dry toner digital press is your best option. The toner of the Xeikon CX3 combines a number of useful features for wine & spirits label converters, such as:

  • superb label printing quality (true 1200 dpi)
  • printing speed up to 30m/min
  • seamless digital front-end integration
  • full-rotary printing
  • great service


End-use label application Dry toner UV inkjet
Food xx not recommended
Beverage xx (offset quality) xx (tactile look and feel)
Wine & Spirits xx too challenging a material
Pharma xx (finest detail in print) Xeikon CX3
Durable / Industrial Varnish or lamination required xx (durability)
Health & beauty xx (offset quality) xx (tactile look and feel)
Chemical Varnish or lamination required xx (durability)

Download white paper

More on food label printing? Would you like a more in-depth look at the different digital printing technologies?

For our complete digital label press line-up, visit our label pages.

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