One of the things we miss most about Seattle is northwest wine. Washington and Oregon wines lined the shelves of even the tiniest grocery stores in the Seattle area (one benefit of Washington’s quirky liquor laws – wine in grocery stores, unlike here in benighted Colorado). Needless to say, a check of our cave’s inventory reveals that our cellar is just about 50% Washington and Oregon bottlings.
Or that’s what this ad for Santa Margherita prosecco would seem to be suggesting:
So what William Grimes in the NY Times doesn’t ask is this: Are the wines with these rude names worth drinking? I guess I’ll have to do the dirty work. If the “bitch category,” as he phrases it, actually has some good wines to offer, I’ll throw my hat in the ring, or tip my glass, or whatever metaphor needs mixing. If not, I’ll just stick with this bitch:
This one’s pretty shameless. I can only imagine the tired marketing conversation that birthed “Little Black Dress” as a wine brand targeted to women. Fact is, though, the wine’s not bad. Varietally correct, decent fruit, good with food. You can even see here that we managed to consume about half of the bottle:
My toy poodle hasn’t been featured recently in these pixels (hey, I can’t really say “in these pages,” now, can I?) but she’s always either on my mind or at my feet. I recently let my daughters take a stab assisting me with Ladybrain shopping at Incredible Wine & Spirits, one of our wine shopping mainstays. In loving tribute to our Reggie, they quickly zeroed in on this one:
Just because you can get away with a salacious product name doesn’t mean you should. Effen vodka is one such name I’ve been annoyed about since I first saw it. The Effen reviews vary, but I think the real appeal must be asking for it at a bar. And while Suxx wine has been dubbed “a very fun fruit bomb” by wine critic Gary Vaynerchuk, the well-mannered, middle-aged suburban mom and lawyer in me really doesn’t want to ask my wine merchant, “Do you have any Suxx?” Neither do I want to offer Suxx at my next party. Both names are just too much. They’ve eschewed any attempt at wit for pure shock value.
I tried. Really, I gave them more than the benefit of the doubt (and my Riedel stemless-ware). But these two wines just left me disappointed.
Let me get this out of the way now: I am horribly allergic
to almost anything that can be characterized as chick lit or a chick flick. Am
I a snob? Yes. Do I make exceptions? Sometimes.  Does the mere mention of The Divine
Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood drive me into a frenzy? Absolutely.
I really do hate how women are condescended to by marketers,
how they think we only want to see romantic comedies with dreamy leading men
who somehow find our vulnerability and clumsiness just adorable. Give me a Will
Ferrell or Christopher Guest movie any day over the schmaltz of a Kate Hudson
rom-com. And don’t get me started on Sex
and the City. Books about four women and how their lives diverged after
college? No. I read The Group when I
was 15 and nothing else will come close, so I won’t even try that tired genre.
I could use a glass of wine after all that complaining, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. But
how do I choose? After all, I’m just a girl, right? Aren’t my purchasing decisions based on frills and bling and pink and sweet desserts, or on sly references to sneaking a drink with my galpals while the kids nap?
Yes, the wine
industry has gone all-out to ensure that women know which wines are meant for us. One of the
first to venture into the wine for women category was the seductively named Mad
Housewife. I confess that I was quite taken by this one because the woman in
their ad looks somewhat like me (albeit with airbrushing and much better nails):
I tasted one of their wines some time ago, and was not
impressed. But there are lots more to choose from now – Bitch, Middle Sister, Lulu B, among many names that unequivocally say “this is girl wine.”
But with cute names far from the usual Chateau Pretentieux, are these
wines at all drinkable? Or are women once again doing more of the work for less of a payoff? Are
we paying for marketing and cutesy names and getting an inferior product? So that’s why I decided to cross-pollinate my interest in branding with my expanding wine knowledge and actually taste some of these wines.
First up on
the list was a pinot grigio by Cupcake. Yep, because why not hop on that trend? The Cupcake brand is wholeheartedly
dedicated to women – so much so that they have a link to “bridal headquarters” on
their site. I can’t argue with their practice of offering interesting varietals from around the world under one brand – their pinot grigio hails from Italy, their sauvignon blanc
from New Zealand, among others – but does the wine measure up in the glass when the consumer actually knows something about wine?
Well, not the pinot grigio. I tasted it before I read the
copy on the back label of the bottle, and found it light-bodied and flabby, with less acid than I expect in a pinot grigio.
The label copy describes the wine as being like “a pear cupcake with white chocolate.” Well, I’ll cede that point to the marketers – that’s EXACTLY what it tasted like. Unfortunately, that’s not at all what
we want our pinot grigio tasting like! A respite of 15 minutes in the glass did
the wine no favors at all – after that exposure to air, it tasted as if it had
been diluted by half with water.
So, round one goes to the marketers and not the taste buds. The Cupcake pinot grigio will make a fine cooking wine.
Stay tuned for round two!
 I confess to loving Music and Lyrics, with Hugh Grant and Drew
Barrymore, largely because of Hugh Grant’s irresistible portrayal of an Andrew Ridgeley-esque washed-up half of a pop (or POP!) duo.
The moral of this story, if I can contort one from all this scatological material, is that our trip to France really inspired me to pursue some in-depth learning about French wine and wine in general. And that’s nice, because in turn, I acquire more material for blogging. (I will certainly report back if I find out why French winemakers have ass on their minds.)
It’s that time of year again, and it almost passed me by. I’ll blame jet lag – we just got back from two weeks in France, and boy are my arms tired. Yeah, that one never gets old.
é, we chose wine-tasting over getting trendy haircuts.
Anyway, I cannot believe I’ve been doing this for four years. It is, as we say in France, dingue. I am lucky that the branding world keeps providing me with ample subjects for commentary.
Heart medication or major fashion house line extension:
I don’t know, with that circle it looks like Prada XA to me. But this could also be another example of the trademark lawyer’s mind working way too hard.
While it’s clear that I need a vacation, instead I will see some of you at the INTA meeting in the city by the bay – and to clarify, that’s not Denver, for those of you who take Will Ferrell’s characters a bit too seriously.
One of my general admonitions for clients about their trademarks is that they should neither turn them into plurals nor chop them off to make nicknames. There are exceptions to every rule – Coca-Cola became Coke, and Federal Express became FedEx, with little damage to the brand’s renown or image.
I am not so sure it works as well in this case:
I’m sorry, “Belve” just does not roll trippingly off the tongue. It’s too close to “belch.” Is it a combination of “belch” and “hive,” perhaps? Do you want to know? Do you hear yourself asking the bartender for a Belve and tonic, or a Belve martini straight up with a twist? No, you don’t, because it sounds ridiculous.
Then, to the ad itself: Tying “Belve” to “Believe,” with the inserted “ie” in a blurred, tomato-red font? All I can read there is “Lie.” And I doubt that’s what they intended. But what did they intend here? Believe in bloody Mary flavored vodka? Believe that this couple is getting dangerously close to Newport cigarette ad territory?
Alternatively, we can probe other paths they can take with Belve: “It’s twelve, time for Belve!” “Don’t shelve the Belve!” Or not . . .
Once again, I can only fall back on the immortal words of Lucille Bluth: I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it. And don’t forget while we’re talking Bluth lore (or at least I am, as I’ll never stop), vodka goes bad once it’s opened.
For chrissakes, if you’re not sure, check the spelling on the goddamn bottle:
A brief but enjoyable visit to Maui before the kids get back from camp provided not only relaxation but also some excellent blog fodder.
Apologies for the blogging drought – it’s been a busy end of summer and the kids are already back in school. But don’t despair, I’ve got something to tide you over until I actually do a bit more work:
Now that’s an evocative and whimsical name. FYI, in our never-ending quest to experience the oenological bounty of every state we visit, we did indeed taste Vermont wine; not bad considering the grapes don’t get a lot of warmth. Whites were better than reds, but we applaud the effort and enthusiasm. The Vermont microbrews we tasted were uniformly outstanding, particularly those from Otter Creek. So bravo to drinking in Vermont, which I know my Middlebury friends will agree with. But I think I’ll keep my skiing to the Rockies; the thought of those narrow slopes covered with ice strikes fear in my aging bones!
We’re almost finished building our wine cellar, and once we’ve loaded in the stash that’s now decorating our living room, there’s going to be a lot of racks to fill. Not that we’re planning on going crazy, mind you, but we’re always looking for something new, particularly from Washington, whose wines we love.
So on a routine visit to Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine I just learned about a new winery: Thirsty Pagans , and its 2005 Communion label red wine. I can’t quarrel with their stated premise: “We think wine IS food.” There’s nothing I like more than irreverence, and their names and label have that down. Bravo.
They’re not there yet, but I’ll bet these folks have an Alt-0174 up their sleeves somewhere! Meanwhile, cheers!
This is what we call in French a cauchemar:
I fondly remember the November of my junior year in Paris – learning what all the signs saying “Il est arrivé” meant – that the Beaujolais nouveau had arrived. Pretty much the cola version of red wine, it went down quite easily.
But this? Only for kitsch value, sorry.
h/t Why Travel to France.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. A French vintner was frustrated with complaints that the wines of his region, Languedoc-Roussillon, were crap. So he created “Le vin de merde” – shit or crap wine. Apparently it’s not half bad, and that fly on the label adds that certain quelle heure est-il, non?
So the irony here is that the wine sold out almost immediately. But I just love the connoisseurs in this video who taste the wine and pronounce it palatable. Real French Joe Sixpacks. And the slogan is nice too – “le pire . . . cache le meilleur” — the worst hides the best. Hey, a votre santé!
Former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe . . . wait, did anyone ever think I’d begin a post with such words? Well, never say never. Bledsoe, now retired from football, has gone on to literally greener pastures, recently opening Doubleback Winery in Walla Walla. I wish the winery great success, and commend them for selecting a terrific name – one that is evocative of both Bledsoe’s career and his return to his hometown.
H/T Catie at Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine.
Well, I missed my 25th reunion but at least managed to get to Providence and Newport, RI, and Westport, MA, in the reunion year. The girls and I enjoyed our friends’ 18th-century home, digging for horseshoe crabs and shells at the beach, and I tried to figure out how to get my body to handle humidity again.
Of course, there was a bit of touring. Chief among the highlights on the trip was the excursion to Dartmouth, Mass., and the marvels of the Christmas Tree Shops store. Any retail establishment with a slogan (registered!)like DON’T YOU JUST LOVE A BARGAIN? is a siren call to me, of course, but this one was junk shopping paradise. Had I not been traveling carry-on only (after the Heathrow debacle of the spring, natch), it could’ve been a pricey trip. As it was, I managed to spend $33, pass a delightful hour there, and come home with dish towels, potholders, paper lanterns, cocktail napkins, potentially counterfeit foam clogs for the other trademark lawyer in the family to examine, and a charming cow-shaped bag for stashing supermarket shopping bags, all cleverly secreted in my luggage.
But what I didn’t buy was so thrillingly emblematic of the store and its commitment to quality that I must share it:
At only $1.99 it was so darn tempting, but I had to refrain. The girls needed sweatshirts from Brown (yes, they now aspire to follow in Mom’s footsteps there, but I keep reminding them that knowing their multiplication tables will really go far to ensuring even initial consideration) and I just had a horror of checking baggage through O’Hare. So the photographic memory will have to suffice.
But it wasn’t just shopping and wet towels. The stroll down memory lane at Brown was thrilling (was it really that small?), and the visit to the Touro Synagogue in Newport moving, particularly George Washington’s assurances to the small congregation back in 1790 that the then-infant nation would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Wise to remember that today.
Next stop: A return to Seattle!