Would you like brown veneer with your dinner? Translation howlers on wine labels

If it isn’t enough to be competing with your own fake products in the Chinese market – anyone for Benfolds? the shoddy translations being done by agents and other unqualified translators with no knowledge of wine and little understanding of English turns your “lingering finish” into a “brown veneer” or your “hints of lemon” into “lemon toast” – for breakfast I guess.

We see some shockers and are often asked to ‘back translate and certify’  labels to satisfy Wine Australia for export. We hold our hands up and say “hang on!”  Producers are generally horrified at what their wine turns into in the hands of unqualified translators. Luckily labels are not difficult to fix to avoid this embarrassment, so we work with the wine maker to prepare a correct, culturally appropriate label and then provide the necessary certifications to satisfy regulators.

Of course, wine descriptions and tasting notes are very complex – like the wines themselves, and China is a ‘developing’ market, still learning to appreciate and understand wines.  We don’t need to make it more difficult, do we.  Branding and status are very important to the market, so any gaffes with wording will mark your offering down – and there is plenty of competition in China – every wine producing country is pitching its wines and China is fast developing its own wine industry.

So get your wine labelling right – engage a Chinese translation company with experience to smooth your passage into the Chinese market and to make sure you are represented correctly.


Got a question? We’d love to hear from you


Level 4, 221 Queen Street, Melbourne 3000
GPO Box 2231, Melbourne 3001

P. 1300 792 446
F. 03 9670 0766


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