Whenever a bottle of wine is purchased, the consumer is looking for a certain level of satisfaction. This satisfaction can often be from the contents of the bottle, but rarely is it exclusively from the contents. Instead, the consumer, consciously or subconsciously, is looking for overall reassurance that the bottle they just purchased, is worth every penny. As a result of most consumers' lack of confidence in their own palates, they look to marketing for reassurance. I know, this sounds cynical and resonates a lack of faith in consumers.
Think I'm wrong? What about the crazy success of 2-buck chuck? The success of this wine is least dependent on it's quality. There are scores of people that say that there is "nothing wrong with it", but most people, again subconsciously, are satisfied buying this wine as a result of marketing. For $2, you get a wine in a bottle with a label and a cork. This is a novelty, and the package over delivers the perception of price point.
Take the other end; I know many collectors that buy simply on perceived reputation of name (Jordan, Silver Oak) without really being able to identify what they like about the wine. They are reassured buying these wines because of their name perception in the marketplace. Their packaging looks more expensive, and certainly did, 15-20 years ago when many collectors where learning about wine. Every retail shop will tell you that simply selling a wine from a wood box will double the velocity on higher end wines. Heavier bottles, wax tops, and tissue paper all add to consumer reassurance of quality. When laid out, it seems almost stupid that this can influence a wine brands' sales. I'll tell you what's stupid: newer brands that have access to this sort of information that ignore it. How many hubris driven names and labels are out there? It's a shame when consumers buy bad wine becasue of great packaging and marketing, but the worse crime is making a world-class wine that languishes because of poor marketing. Wineries don't need to pull out all of the stops, but they need to consider whether the consumer will be reassured trying a new wine, packaging and name go a long way to consumers taking a risk and trying something new.