Sunday, October 02, 2005

Label Conscious

Wine labels attract us in mysterious ways. The sight of a Chateau Petrus or Mouton Rothschild label makes some people weak at the knees. It's the same with cognacs, cars, cigars, almost every hobby seems to have it's coveted marks. I suppose it's because we are confronted with so much mediocrity in our day-to-day lives that we are automatically attracted to excellence like moths to a flame. The real truth about wine is that there is too much of the stuff being produced and the result is a wine glut which results in some pretty creative thinking in the ole' marketing departments. Bottles and labels get sexier with every vintage. Mouton Rothschild was one of the pioneers when they commissioned an artist to paint a new painting every year for their wine labels. Perrier Jouet Champagne bottles have huge hand painted flowers on them, even 24 carat gold leaf lettering can be common-place these days. I have seen bottles with gold plated kangaroos dangling from the neck, and some even come with artificial dirt on them, presumably so that your guests will be impressed by your poor application of the domestic sciences in your "ancien cave".
But it's the Spanish who are the real kings of the kitschy bottles. They wrap them in burlap or copper wire and one of my favorites comes with a little plastic bull on it's neck and it's usually obligatory to show at least one cluster of gold medals whether or not the wine has actually won an award in the last 100 years or not. I once met a man that had an impressive collection of wine which he just collected for the labels "Its a good investment" he declared "I actually don't care for the stuff myself" he said!
So does all of this hype actually help sell the bottles? I suppose it might, but never the less, you are more than welcome to come over to my house to see my herd of tiny plastic bulls and my bulging collection of wine related key chains.
All these pretty things on the outside of the bottle are really quite worthless and are only there to attract our attention. Try to remember to use the label for what it was originally designed to do... inform you of what is in the bottle, where it came from and what year it was made. After all, isn't it what's inside of the bottle that really counts?


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