Destination: Corona del Mar, California

So of course there has to be a juice bar, right? Because California, right?

I just can’t decide whether or not this is what I call a shitmanteau (and yes, if you follow me on Twitter you are well aware that I am trying to make #shitmanteau happen) – i.e., a portmanteau that just doesn’t work.

I think I’m going to err on the side of calling this a shitmanteau because the “sej” part of the word is so incongruous to the English language.  But your mileage may vary.

Meanwhile, the Summer House restaurant just next door was a superb lunch location and our weekend getaway to sunny southern California was everything we could’ve hoped for – good friends, good food and wine, serious Fitbit mileage, real estate envy, and always, always in the OC (don’t call it that), quoting from Arrested Development.


Drinking with my ladybrain for a change

I think we’re moving past pink and frilly to encouraging full-on addiction:

comfort wine

Comfort wine / it’s anodyne /it’s not going to tax your palate / it’s just going to slide down your gullet!

Don’t get me wrong – I like my wine just fine, though two glasses are about my limit these days. But I’m midway through this excellent memoir of alcoholic life by Sarah Hepola, and really do think that some of the mommy wine marketing can be seductively destructive. Plus, I’m a wine snob, so trumpeting a chardonnay’s sweetness through the “custard” designation is never going to appeal.

I couldn’t even bring myself to buy it to determine if “custard” was accurate, because I was too embarrassed to be seen buying “comfort wine,” even for research purposes!


Sad ad?

Doesn’t this ad really just say “hey, ladies, it’s okay to drink alone?”

Santa Margherita

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but why not make it explicit rather than a hidden message on a bottle?

Drinking with my ladybrain, summer rosé edition

With the usual apologies for the blogging drought, where has summer gone, etc. etc.

Now, I haven’t broken out the ladybrain in some time, but the skyrocketing popularity of rosé wine offers a few more names that skew feminine or girly. Here’s one that was a pleasant surprise despite its packaging:

Wild Thing rose

The name, the flowers, the “Rendezvous Rosé” blend name – all suggest a weekend without kids, or a bachelorette party, or something otherwise trivial and feminized. Yet this wine is a delicious and spicy but dry carignane blend, and at only 13.5% alcohol it complemented our slapdash dinner nicely but could easily stand on its own as an aperitif.


Check that spelling

More TJ Maxx antics:


Just decide on one and stick with it. But I’ll give you a hint – it’s Provence! (Also, this chateau appears not to exist at all. Tant pis.) This wooden tray was tempting, and you know I love a good typo, but helas, this was not marked down enough.

I’m so fancy

It has been quite a while since I last did any drinking for research purposes. Let me tell you, this one isn’t likely to make me resume the practice:


I think the only way this wine’s marketers could’ve pandered to their target market more would be to have made the label pink. With flowers. And a photo of Ryan Gosling.

N.B. Somehow I lost all my photos in my blog transition. I apologize. Technology is hard.

You drank it all night long?

A dear friend in London spotted this gem on an Austrian ski trip and knew it was right up my alley:

I think I’ve found my next winetasting/blogging gig: celebrity/vanity wines. Time to research!

A quick dip

Yes, I’ve been a slacker. Many apologies. Mid-April to mid-May has been a trying time this year, but I’m trying (see what I did there?) to overcome it.

Meanwhile, this is not a real post per se – no pictures or fun brands, but I just wanted to link to this article on wine tasting, since it provides an excellent example of what we trademark lawyer geeks call use of a mark (here, Big Mac) other than as a mark. 

Enjoy, and I’ll be back with Birchbox blogging soon.

One track mind

I’m probably one of very few people who can see this ad for hair color

and think wine, but I do. Why? Because Aloxe-Corton is a wine commune in Burgundy, one that we passed by but didn’t visit in 2011. Until I learned that it is pronounced “A-lohss,” in my mind I pronounced it exactly like the above hair color product.

I do like the Aloxxi mark because it just hints at “locks” of hair. At least I assume that’s the intention; me, I’ll just go back to dreaming of Burgundy.

N.B. It is only in drafting this post and mulling over the Aloxxi mark for some time that I realized that the mark’s first connotation to me was not “lox” – so clearly they’ve done something right!

March 2013 Birchbox

I am excited – they went for “March Madness” as their theme for the month’s goodies, and I, for one, have no problem with this whatsoever. Likely to be confused with the NCAA? Nope. Likely to be viewed of as sponsored by or affiliated with the NCAA? Nope again. Is it March? Yes. Does Birchbox reference the NCAA sporting events that take place in March in its copy? Yes again. But I still don’t mind, because referring to the grand slate of basketball tournaments that takes place in March – and the ensuing frenzy – is appropriate, when the NCAA has elevated the annual tournament to holiday status. You can’t define a season – not to mention making untold millions from broadcast rights and tickets and all – and then tell the public they can’t call it what you’ve named it.

The same goes for the Oscars and the Super Bowl, by the way.

Now that I’ve hosed myself down after this rant, I’ll resume our regularly-scheduled Birchbox blogging.

Here’s my favorite naming of the bunch:

Caudalie products are made from antioxidants that are derived from the byproducts of winemaking. So I’m already predisposed to like them. Calling this new collection “premier cru,” or “first growth”? Now I love it. I’ve used their products before and have liked them, particularly since they don’t overdo it on fragrance. Read their story here; you’ll want to go there.

Next, we have another foreign import:

It’s Miss Me perfume by Stella Cadente – “falling star,” in Italian. I like the perfume name and the company name. Unfortunately, the scent is a bit too powdery for me.


Serge Normant, according to his website, is a “renowned hairstylist” with an “eponymous line of transformative hair care and styling products.” With florid prose like that, I’m intrigued. But after scouring the site I can only conclude that the wild coifs depicted on his home page are not the results I can expect from using this dry shampoo. But I’ll try my best.

Vasanti’s website is a lot less glamorous than Serge Normant’s. But since its offering, pictured here – 

 – contains the term “face rejuvenator,” who am I to refuse it?

Finally, this month’s bonus shows an example of a good old-fashioned laudatory mark:

That’s Madewell. Can any trademark geek tell me why MADEWELL is registered on the Supplemental Register for paint but on the Principal Register for clothing? I can’t come up with a principled distinction, but I suspect the PTO can’t either.
Enjoy the madness!

The Alt-0174 Award: Not Dead Yet

Rewined Candles. Discarded wine bottles transformed into candle holders that hold wine-scented candles. From reading about them on Dooce to tweeting about them to opening my blogging program – maybe three minutes? That’s how much I love the Rewined Candles name and concept – so much that I can hardly craft complete sentences. They get bonus points for a stylish and clever logo too; it conveys the recycled aspect of the product yet is tasteful and classy at the same time:

Impressive work all around! The Rewined name is a most deserving beneficiary of the coveted Alt-0174 award.

Ladybrain-free wine blogging

Three long years ago, I promised to blog about the Western Slope of Colorado and its produce and wine. Life somehow interfered with the execution of that promise, but in the meantime, we’ve had the chance to learn more about Colorado wine – specifically, that it can be quite good and has great potential to keep improving. But don’t just take my word for it – others are spreading the word too.

On our visit to Colorado wine country three long years ago, we toured many wineries in the Palisade and Paonia areas. So many, in fact, that we returned with 33 bottles of wine! Veterans of several summertime tours to eastern Washington wineries, we were well-prepared with ice packs and Styrofoam coolers to ensure the safe journey home of our bounty in 100-degree heat. (Heat wasn’t a concern once we hit a mudslide that washed out the road on our return. We got to see a lot more of the state than we’d expected when we took an exciting detour over Kebler Pass [unpaved!] and then through Crested Butte. But I digress …)

One of our favorite stops on the trip was Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade. The wines were uniformly excellent, and the setting? Stunning:

So why do I bring this up, three years later? Well, we’re still drinking their wine: their 47-Ten everyday blend is quite reliable (see this review of their rosé, where it performed admirably among more well-known names and regions) and was available at Costco this season at what the French call a prix intéressant. And I just love their tagline:

That’s right – Wine With an Altitude! Cheeky and evocative, it’s a great tagline that reinforces the key proposition here: this is Colorado wine! Remember, if you’re wedded to a descriptive or not all-that-distinctive trademark, a tagline can make all the difference. But don’t trust me on that: trust Nancy, who wrote the book on taglines (or at least parts One and Two!)

Destination: Sicily and non-ladybrain wine

As you know from my renowned* Drinking with my Ladybrain feature, wine is often marketed to women as a way to escape from the travails of a woman’s daily life. Well, that sentiment is not just for the ladyfolk – meet my friend Sally’s cousin Fabio, and his La Pausa wine:

As Fabio explained to me, slowly enough for me to understand his Italian, it’s a very light red wine meant for relaxation and enjoyment – for drinking now, with good friends and family. La Pausa means just that – the pause, or break. Dinner with Fabio and his wife Toni was one vital component of a lovely and relaxing break from our harried lives here at home.
And not only did Fabio make good wine – he also made delicious fresh ricotta. We ate it the first night we were in Sicily and it was so good it brought tears to my eyes. (Okay, I may have been somewhat inebriatedly slurring something along the lines of “This is why we came here!”) You can approximate its freshness using this recipe from David Lebovitz, but I don’t think you can approximate the joy that Fabio brought to the table.
*In my own mind, that is.

Drinking with my ladybrain VI

Okay, Portuguese wines. Usually good values, real depth in the reds. We’ve drunk a few and quite enjoyed them.

My guess on this one:
Leftover grapes, and the marketers thought “why not jump on that ladybrain bandwagon” (or words to that equivalent in Portuguese) since obviously those ladyfolk won’t know the difference between good wine and plonk, and if we put lacy pink squiggles and a woman’s name on the label, we can offload it. Really, Moira’s? Isn’t that an Irish name, not a Portuguese name?
Well, for $6.99 it was borderline drinkable, and, unlike the Chateauneuf-de-Pape we opened earlier, not corked. Still, this one really smacks of a desperate attempt to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Beer here

Colorado is a mecca for beer drinkers, and we are committed, along with friends in Boulder and here in the Denver burbs, to visiting as many brewpubs as possible. Don’t worry – there’s always a designated driver, and it’s usually me, as I have zero tolerance for the stamina this pub crawling requires.

This past weekend we tried some Boulder-area breweries, and weren’t disappointed. Our favorite, for a repeat performance, was Avery Brewing Company. Their Eremita III, a “sour ale without the training wheels,” was a revelation. (Hey, the driver allows herself a few tastes!) At Asher Brewing, we enjoyed a spirited game of darts along with beers that bore green-themed names as a tribute to their organic brewing: Greenade, Green Monstah, Green Bullet, and Green Lantern, to name a few.
My favorite on the humor front was Golden City Brewery – not for its name, which merely indicates its location (Upslope, another one we stopped at, wins my name prize of the evening – and damn good beer too), but rather for its slogan, with its clever nod to its much larger neighbor in picturesque Golden:
That reads “The Second Largest Brewery in Golden.” (Apologies – I’m just learning how to use my iPhone camera.) The casual, dreadlock-wearing crowd at Golden City was definitely the antidote to the corporate behemoth a few blocks away. Cheers!
The fall pub crawl returns to Denver; stay tuned.

Drinking with my ladybrain V

I promised; now I’ll deliver. Here it is once again, Nuvo:

I’ve kind of dumbed down the drama of the bottle by photographing it on my dining room chair against my dull gray dining room wall (gotta get that repainted one of these days!) Here’s how it appears on the Nuvo website:
Nuvo Sparkling Liqueur
Definitely a more feminine look than in my photo. Still, this photo doesn’t begin to capture just how electrically pink Nuvo was when I poured it; it’s nearly neon in its intensity.
Nuvo markets itself as “a lifestyle choice for trendy individuals.” (And may I also add that it’s clumsily and incorrectly marked as “NUVO©“?) Whoever those individuals may be, the web copy also advises that drinking Nuvo is for “Celebrating Life Everyday [sic]” and that it “comes housed in a gorgeous, perfume-like bottle that adds flare [sic] and decor to any event.” Again, whatever that means.
So what does it taste like? The site says it’s made with premium French vodka, sparkling white wine, and passion fruit nectar, intended to “dazzle your taste buds and delight your palette [sic].” Dear Reader, I am sad to report that my palate was not delighted. Fizzy vodka with disinfectant is more like it. It’s also very strong, with a kick like wasabi. Lest you think that this is just my own bias, I can promise you that the four other adults who tasted it this weekend also marveled at Nuvo’s harsh and astringent character. The pink perfume flask was definitely deceiving.
A few things I don’t understand, though: The Nuvo website’s “mixology” section suggests mixing Nuvo with … wait for it … more vodka, for a new sensation. Another variation includes mixing tequila with Nuvo, which sounds just disgusting. And while I see from the website that Nuvo is targeting both the “urban lifestyle” and “Latin spice” markets, I have a hard time picturing anyone other than a woman picking up this pink bottle. Perhaps that’s why Nuvo has branched out to add Nuvo Lemon Sorbet, which they refer to as being “sleek like a yellow Lamborghini.” Sleek it may be, but at 25% alcohol, I think I’ll have to pass. 
The good thing about Nuvo? One, despite my kvetching about its taste, it’s a pretty good name – a phonetic spelling of the French word nouveau, so its appearance is really distinctive. And two? It’s a liqueur, so it should stay drinkable for a while after opening, which will enable me to use this with guests as a cocktail conversation piece, if you will. Not bad for an investment of $10! 
(And for Nuvo’s website’s copywriters? Check out this invaluable resource so you don’t make me [sic] again: !)

How to protect trade dress; or, shopping for wine again

Check out this unusual wine bottle label:

How do you protect it as trade dress? Here’s a good start:
Will that alone work? Not necessarily. As I always tell clients, a trademark registration is not a self-executing document: on its own, it does not function to prevent infringement, and enforcement of rights requires litigation, most of the time. Similarly, merely saying that this label is “exclusive trade dress” won’t prevent copycats. But that statement shows that Coppola is serious about protecting its rights, and that copycats will likely be challenged. (They’ve also registered the label design as a trademark, for belt-and-suspenders protection.) Here, because there’s nothing purely functional about this label design, I think the label may be protectable trade dress. And the recent Maker’s Mark decision from the Sixth Circuit appears to support that claim.
But I didn’t buy the wine, because 14.5% alcohol will have me face-down in my dinner after about a glass, distinctive label or not!


Drinking with my ladybrain – you were wondering where it went? Have no fear, it’s coming back, now that I found this:

Two thoughts before I even open the bottle: (1) the slogan beneath the brand name reads “L’esprit de Paris.” Je suis desolee, mais je crois que non. And (2) the youngest Levy opined that the bottle top looks like a sippy cup for adults.
Stay tuned for the lowdown on what’s inside the bottle!