Home renovation shows are the Sweet Partner in
Crime’s guilty pleasure. Especially the one where
an inordinately attractive person finds a
suitably run-down or outdated target, starts a renovation, bickers and banters,
runs into a complication that chews up the budget – but still manages to create
a beautiful entryway out of wood reclaimed from an old gazebo they borrowed
from a property up the road just in time for the big reveal…you know, that one.
Or that one.
What does this have to do with wine? Well, we all
like shiny things.
There’s an apocryphal “study” – that I’ve never
been able to actually find anywhere – which allegedly states that the average
person takes 38 seconds to select a bottle of wine. I’m not sure how exactly to
read that. Were they controlling for the size of the wine store? Did they
include choosing whether a person knew they were looking for red Burgundy or
Regardless...if you’re an everyday wine drinker,
unless you have a particular bottle that go back to time and time again, wine
buying is largely an impulse purchase. There’s the glance at the rack, a price
comparison, a quick scan of any Parkerish scores that happen to be on the
shelf, and the “Is a $10 wine at 88 points going to be different from this $15
at 90?” cross-reference.
And, of course, a purchaser looks at the label.
Wine producers know this. We’re a long way from the days of plain wine labels
with a winery, a region, a varietal, and a vintage. Bottle labels are packed
with information now – tasting notes, food pairings, stories about how the
wineries came to be. Each meant to distinguish one bottle from another, so a
wine consumer can find what they’re looking for.
The current state of wine label marketing has been
called “label porn” as producers try out newer, more eye catching, more
quick-catchy displays and label artwork. Walk into any contemporary wine store
and you’re deluged with an overwhelming array of funky fonts, cute art, and
But cleverness only goes so far. Once everyone
starts getting clever, then the
buy me now message gets diluted. With all this variation, how can a producer
get their bottle to call out “Pick me!”
One possible way? Make the bottle itself look
different. Bargain-basement wines have done this for years – jugs of Almaden,
lozenges of Mateus and Lancer, straw-covered cheap Chianti, or the hangovered
fortifications of Black Tower are regulars. But among “normal” wines, a few
standard bottle shapes and colors rule the shelves.
After getting a couple of interestingly-bottled
samples, I popped down to Big Wine Store and did a pass through the aisles to
snag a couple other interesting containers, with the notion of “When I’m done
drinking this, could I repurpose the bottle into some interesting artifact” in
2014 “Caranto” Pinot Noir – Pinot isn’t something I usually think of when I
think of Italian wine, but I’m always up for new things. Apparently, Pinot Noir
grows in the northeastern corner of Italy, near Venice. I was quite pleasantly
surprised by the quality of the wine. I’m used to lighter Italian grapes like
Sangiovese and Valpolicella yielding light bodied wines – but this Pinot had a
surprising amount of oomph. Nice palate weight with raspberries and cherries
combining silkily. Smooth smoky tannins are nicely balanced and yield a smoky
finish. It’s a solid wine. I was stunned to see it listed for around $11. A
great value in this stubby, high shouldered bottle.
(NV) Brut Reserva Cava
– Let’s just give props first for the beautiful
label design – a colorful mosaic-ish riot of color that easily stands out from
a row of Cava. I make no bones about my enjoyment of Cava, one of my favorite
“Don’t think” sparklers, but this one gets a few bonus points from me. First,
it’s a “brut” that’s actually brut. Many brut Cava either lack fruit flavors or
taste like they have extra residual sugar. This wine has some lovely green
apple and yeast aromas, but the palate is dry, crisp, and refreshing. One of
the more complex, balanced Cava at its price point. And pretty!
Bertrand 2015 “Cote des Roses” Languedoc Rosé --
A truly unique bottle
style, tall and tapered, with the bottom of the bottle cut into the shape of a
rose blossom, so you can show up at your intended’s door like:
The wine itself is minerally and crisp, with light
strawberry and citrus flavors. I found lemon peel and stone on the finish. A
really versatile rosé, workable with anything from porchtime sipping to spicy
pork dishes. You should be able to find this for around $13.
The curved, feminine lines of the Aimé Roquesante 2015 Cotes de Provence Rosé
also caught my eye in the pink aisle. This inexpensive, dry, strawberry-filled
quaffer that looks lovely in both the bottle and glass. The salmony color is
backed with a lean, zingy acidity and and friendly fruity finish. An excellent
value at $10, as well.
Finally, while traipsing through the store, I came
across a cute little high shouldered bottle, the Scholium Project 2009 Lost Slough Vineyards “Riquewihr” Gewurztraminer
The Scholium Project does small batches of grapes from interesting vineyards,
using natural fermentation and long aging. Their small lots are mirrored in
their small bottles. I likely would have let this one pass if it hadn’t been on
deep sale, as for 500ml, it would have run $35+. This Gewurz, sourced from a
vineyard outside Sacramento, fooled me into thinking it was a Viognier with its
perfumey nose of peach blossoms that marches quickly into a minerally, Alsatian
characteristic. Honestly, it was a very interesting wine, while not my
Now that you’ve got some extra glassware, let your
ideas for objects d’art run wild. While my own mind generally doesn’t run towards
design, I hope the SPinC will enjoy this: