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February 02, 2007

Me Loves the “Wine That Loves” Labels

UPDATED (April 5th):
The Wine That Loves website is now online. And, BusinessWeek (SmallBiz edition) has an interesting piece on Wine That Loves.


For many of us, it’s intimidating to buy wine. Why? Come on, we know the reasons why. Most labels are obtuse. Styles are ill-defined. Pairing wine with food is utter guesswork. And prices can get super-spendy.

It takes an educated person to understand the information on wine labels from the appellation of origin to the grape varietal to its quality designation. Most of us cannot begin to articulate the differences between a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sirah, Pinot Noir, or Zinfindel. Pairing wine with food beyond knowing that white goes with fish and red goes with steak is a mystery for many. And most of us shudder to think of spending $60+ on a bottle of wine we’ve never heard of at a restaurant.

That’s the problem and the Amazing Food Wine Co. thinks they have the answer—easy to understand wine labels.

According to BrandWeek, the Amazing Food Wine Co. is launching a new wine brand called, Wine That Loves. This new wine brand “…takes the guesswork out of pairing wine with food. Thus, Wine That Loves Pizza, Wine That Loves Pasta, Wine That Loves Roasted Chicken, and so on."

Yep, it’s a wine marketing effort designed to make pairing wines with food a no-brainer. Serving Roasted Chicken with a Caribbean-style Mango Glaze... pair the dish with the "Wine That Loves Roasted Chicken" bottle. Very simple, very easy, and quite interesting, eh? Take a gander at the creatively straight-forward label design:

Wines_that_love3


Wine geeks do not like these labels
because details like grape varietal, vintage year, and growing region are not included and those details matter greatly to wine geeks. But this wine isn’t being made for wine geeks. It’s for all those folks who are either intimidated by selecting wines or unable to decipher the language intricacies of wine labels. And ya know what, there are more wine neophytes than there are wine geeks.

While these wine labels take a whimsical approach to communicating wine and refuse to get caught up in granular grape details, it's not like they are absent of information. On the back-side of each bottle is information which will help wine newbies gain a basic tasting vocabulary (tannins, acidity levels, etc.) from which to better describe the wine they are drinking.

So maybe, just maybe, after being introduced to wine with the “Wines That Loves” labels, these wine neophytes will begin their journey to understanding/appreciating wine and ultimately graduate to wine geek status.

Now, let’s hope the Amazing Food Wine Co. took as much time crafting the wine inside the bottle as they did in crafting the label on the outside of the bottle.


BTW … my Dad is a total wine geek. I’m curious to see if he is reading my blog and if he is, he’s sure to have an opinion on this post about wine. After all, he’s the guy with the know-it-all gene which was genetically bequeathed to me. John Moore calling Al Moore, come in Al...

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Comments

Can you say "Garanamimals"?

John,

I'm a wine geek, as well, learning the craft when I worked as a travel writer (before Starbucks). My specialty: Excellent wines under $10. I won't be buying wines from the Amazing Food Wine Co., but I agree, this is a good idea and can succeed if the wine is palatable and the marketing campaign sends the right messages.

Lewis ... since you are all about discovering excellent wines under $10, what's your take on Best Cellars? How well you think they do in being the filter to find inexpensive yet tasty wines?

This is a great idea, I hope it comes to my local grocery store. Most people are very confused about wine, which is probably why wines that featured an animal on the label outsold those that didn't, 2 to 1 (according to Podtini). Unless you are an expert it is very hard to differentiate all the similar wine offerings.

A few thoughts...

Unfortunately Starbucks could never get this unsophisticated and simplistic in describing their whole-bean coffees... This would be an AWESOME way to show customers buying coffee for home what to pair it with.

What's ballsy is that Amazing Food Wine is willing to let these particular wines stand for only one thing (pizza for one, chicken for the other). Most marketers would want to put the 20-items that their product pairs with... "Geez, aren't we leaving money on the table if people only buy the 'pizza wine?' when they have pizza?"

Best Cellars started in NYC to be "The Starbucks of Wine." They wanted to make wine as approachable as Starbucks made a double-tall non-fat latte. I was the marketing manager in NYC when they started up. The Starbucks and Best Cellars brands partnered well back then as we were targeting the same clients as well as were using basic flavor characteristics to make our products more approachable.

Target has/had done an excellent job, in-aisle, of breaking down the flavor characteristics of wine and a supporting system for labeling. Thus making it as easy as possible to learn, select, and purchase a bottle that met your tastes... However, the last time I was in a Target... they got greedy in filling up shelf space and the top row (which was cleared to see the graphics) is now filled with wine bottles. The messaging is hidden making it just as difficult as every other place to buy a bottle.

Finally, to all of the wine snob who feel this tactic and similar tactics are 'dumbing down of wine...' The more popular wine is, the more support there is for making more of it. The more of it that their is, the more of it that is better!

Used to be in the US you could get two kinds of coffee good and bad. Now we have choices. Lessons learned!

Paul ... astute comment about the bravery and focus American Wine Foods shows by having their wines stand for ONE THING each.

John,

I don't know Best Cellars. My knowledge of wine was learned on the job as a travel writer taking tours and experiencing tastings. I also have a significant wine library so that I can understand wine from the dirt up. And I read Wine Spectator. That's probably because I almost always want to discover quality on my own, although I do look for good recommendations from those I trust.

I would thing that in a social setting, bringing "pizza wine" or "chicken wine" to a dinner party would be a serious status downgrade to whoever brought the stuff. My cynical side tends to think that most people would rather gamble on a fancy wine they know nothing about than be embarrassed by their friends with what could be described as the "PlaySkool" version - or maybe "wine for dummies".

I don't think it will fall flat, the optimist in me says that there are probably enough people to whom the status of a "proper" wine doesn't matter, and that this may relieve some wine aisle tension for that niche. But I think most of the market they are aiming for would rather "fake it till they make it" in the world of wine selection...

Has anyone tried this wine? Is it swill or worth my while?

The trouble with this wine is not that it makes wine approachable while overlooking the details that wine geeks love, but that it does so at the expense of the consumer.

My own complaint about the line, as described on my blog, is that it is based on the flawed notions that:

1. Everyone has the same flavor preferences in wine (i.e. hates tannins) and...

2. Everyone has the same experience of flavor (they don't) and so will have an objective flavor experience and...

3. Everyone cooks the same and includes the same seasonings and flavor components in their food (again, they don't).

What happens when someone who doesn't particularly know wine buys a bottle of "Goes with Pizza" or whatever it's called and hates it? Well, they'll decide they don't care much for wine, period: I dunno...it goes with pizza, and I don't like it so I must just not like red wine.

I believe that limiting the consumer's choice "for their own sake" (i.e. to make it more approachable) is a very bad idea and totally underestimates the wants and needs of the "average" consumer (as though there is one). It is so myopic it kills me.

As a wine producer it is very tempting to market this kind of concept label, on the other hand you wonder if by marketing this kind of label, how limited will your chances be in reaching an even broader market.

My best bet is a combination of easy info both for wine neophytes and wine geeks.

I love wine and my life revolves around wine, being from the Douro region in Portugal I prefer to educate and inform our consumers, even more so when Portuguese wines are still very uknown.

However it's all about numbers and if this kind of wine label reaches the over break even point then why not...

World Market just put these on sale - first I've heard of them. For $5 a bottle we're definitely going to try them. Their web site gives me hope...

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