Myth buster: Can you judge wine by its label?
I have to be honest with you: I procrastinated and waited until the last minute to start writing this column. It was three days before deadline and I had nothing. Naturally, I immediately went into panic mode.
Not that I’m wino, but my first impulse was to grab a glass of wine, calm down, and hope that something honest and refreshing would come to me. Something compelling and intriguing, something different; and, by the way, it had to be about wine. So on my way to the wine cellar (aka a shelf in my pantry) I had thoughts of inadequacy. I thought that I have no business writing, that I know nothing about wine, that I am a procrastinator, a failure, and a loser, and that I have a flabby butt. I felt like a walking ad for Prozac.
When I got to the “cellar” I was stunned an amazed that there was NO wine… further confirming my previous thoughts. How could it be that I had no wine in the house? As soon as complete hopelessness set in, an idea came to me.
I threw on my boots, an oversized sweatshirt covered with dog hair, some old yoga pants that have not once been used for yoga, and I was out the door on an exciting WINE mission. I decided that I was going to the wine store to pick out four wines to review based on one thing only: the packaging! Perhaps I was inspired by my mother, who always said that you can’t judge a book by its cover, or maybe I wanted to conduct my own little MythBusters experiment. And worst-case scenario? Perhaps you’ll learn of four bottles of wine not to try based on the packaging alone!
Since the average person spends 38 seconds looking for a bottle of wine, I must have broken all kinds of records since I spent 54 minutes in the wine store. Yes, almost a full hour of research in my quest for two whites and two reds. First, I scanned the entire store to see if anything jumped out. I realize we all have different tastes and preferences, but good gosh, some of the labels out there are super boring!
Marketing is huge in the wine industry, and despite the amount of time and money spent creating the perfect label and bottle, I think that my fourth-grader could have done a better job on some of these labels. On the other hand, there are some options that have creative names and great labels, such as Ass Kisser, Longhurschlong (you will get that one in a minute), Kung Fu Girl and the ever-popular Bitch.
After surveying the entire store multiple times, my indecisiveness was kicking in, so I had to make a plan. I decided to break it down by whites and reds. I decided to treat all red wines equally, even though I love Pinot Noir. The two that stood out to me were Chocolate Box Shiraz and Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon. I liked the names, and the labels were cool. Next, on to the whites. A chardonnay in a ceramic-like, old world bottle was so simple and elegant that it caught my eye immediately: Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay. Last but not least, my favorite bottle did not resemble a wine bottle at all, but rather a very expensive glass bottle of water you might find at a fancy hotel:Voga Pinot Grigio. It was sleek and beautiful!
I was so excited about my little experiment, mainly because I truly picked them based on the packaging and I had never tasted any of them. I couldn’t wait to get home and see if you could accurately judge wine by its label. I was expecting at least one or two to be a disappointment, but to my surprise all four bottles were excellent! I encourage you to try these and even venture out and try a little experiment of your own.
These all retail for under $20 (except the Silver Chardonnay, which retails around $26, but I had to try it because I loved the bottle).
The moral of the story? I’m hopeful that the guys in the wine store did not judge me by my packaging that day!