If you pick up a bottle of wine, especially one from the Cotes-du-Rhone region of France, chances are you will feel the little bumps that make up Braille on the label.
How they got there is a pretty amazing story, thanks to a thoughtful winemaker.
Michel Chapoutier comes from a dynasty of winemakers. The family has been making wine in the Rhone region for years.
In 1993, when Chapoutier was only 29 and had been the main winemaker in the family business for only three years, he watched his friend and musician Gilbert Montagnin on television.
Montagnin, who is blind, was talking about the experience of buying wine and was explaining on the programme that he never felt comfortable going into a wine shop alone because he didn’t know which wines he was picking up. Hence, he would have to always be accompanied by a friend who would describe the wines he was selecting.
Chapoutier knew Montagnin was a big fan of his Cotes-du-Rhone and he didn’t like the idea that it was uncomfortable for his friend to seek it out, so he decided to look into whether or not his old printing machine could print Braille.
After a bit of research, it turned out that it was a relatively simple process to add Braille to his labels, so Chapoutier decided to include the Braille text to every bottle of wine he produced.
From that point on, every bottle of Chapoutier carries in Braille the appellation, name of the wine, vintage and whether it is red or white. This applies to not only his wines from Cotes-du-Rhone but also Languedoc Rousillon, Provence and even Australia.
After Chapoutier adopted the Braille, other winemakers followed suit, making it much easier for those without sight to choose and enjoy a bottle of wine.
And that’s how Braille wound up on wine bottles.
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