Pop culture wines 2020 include swimsuit models, reality shows, and pro wrestling
How could I forget to update the dumbest pop culture wines list in 2019? Chalk it up to even more wine business foolishness than usual – the 25 percent European wine tariff, the grape glut but not necessarily lower wine prices, and all the rest.
So here are the dumbest pop culture wines 2020. The list is not scientific in any way or meant to be inclusive. Talk about the headache I’d get trying to do that.
And not all wine made by celebrities or based on movies and TV is useless. My pal John Bratcher had a long talk last month with actor Kyle MacLachlan, who owns a Washington state winery. He was just as unhappy with the three-tier system as any of the rest of the us; how much more legit can MacLachlan’s wines be?
Pop culture wines are not about quality. They’re made because the grapes are cheap and the margins are high, and they get a lot of free ink, cyber and real, from the non-wine media. Because, celebrities! Or, as one review put it for wine based on the “Outlander” series, “Truth be told, the labels are what really sell this wine.”
Otherwise, is there really any reason for these wines to exist?
• How did we have to wait so long for a pro wrestling wine? “Dream” Sparkling and “Nighmare” GSM, a red blend, from the legendary Rhodes wrestling family. They’re apparently sold out, so fans of the squared circle are out of luck.
• MasterChef wine, based on the reality cooking show. Three bottles, $56. Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business?
More about pop culture wine:
• Welcome to the wine business, Sarah Jessica Parker
• Update: Dumbest pop culture wines 2018
• Do we really need more celebrity wine?
• Downton Abbey claret — wine merchandising for dummies
This week’s wine news: Napa real estate defies every law of economics, while the Scots tussle over legal weed and more pop culture-themed booze
• Land, land, land: Napa real estate prices continue to rise, and in doing so violate almost every law of economics. The latest example? A hotel property that sold for $52.5 million in 2017 sold for $102 million this summer. The new owners, not surprisingly, are wine collectors. What does it say about the cost of Napa wine, which needs even pricier vineyard land, when property for a hotel doubles in value in one year? It’s not a pretty thought, is it?
• Scottish battle: A new stadium sponsor for a soccer team in Scotland’s top league is causing controversy, reports the BBC. The Hamilton Academical team has renamed its grounds HopeCBD Stadium after the company paid a “five-figure sum.” HopeCBD sells products containing cannabidiol, which is produced from marijuana plants. They’re sold in Britain as nutritional supplements, including oils, sprays, vapes, candies, and tea bags, and the company compares them to alcohol-free beer.
• Game of Thrones: If “Game of Thrones” wine wasn’t enough, how about Game of Thrones Scotch? British drinks giant Diageo release eight single-malt labels next year in time for the show’s final season. Each will come from a different distillery, and will be named for a different house or group from Westeros, the fictional land where much of the series is set. Apparently, Westeros uses the whisky spelling, just as Scotland does, and not the whiskey spelling we use in the U.S. No doubt there will be a blood spattering, head-splitting battle to decide which is more correct.
Add the since-canceled Handmaid’s Tale wine to the list of dumbest pop culture labels
We’ve added a wine to the dumbest pop culture wines 2018 list, one that is so colossally stupid that it makes the list even though it was canceled. Because, of course, it was so colossally stupid.
Wine drinkers unite: We don’t have to put up with The Handmaid’s Tale wine.
The geniuses behind this foolishness is a company called Lot 18, which specializes in branded wine. It has also given us wine based on Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live, and Lord of the Rings – products without which the republic would have collapsed.
At best, the idea of Handmaid Tale wine is in poor taste. At worst – and many in the cyber-ether pointed this out – it celebrates a totalitarian culture that denigrates women and where rape and torture are accepted public policy. Hardly a positive marketing environment, if someone had spent 15 seconds thinking about it.
Hence, Lot 18 and MGM (which does the Hulu series) decided to cancel the wine. Neither offered an explanation – just took the wine website down. That no one said anything was probably a good idea, given promotional material used to sell the wine:
“Completely stripped of her rights and freedom, Offred must rely on the one weapon she has left to stay in control – her feminine wiles. This French Pinot Noir is similarly seductive, its dark berry fruit and cassis aromatics so beguiling it seems almost forbidden to taste.”
“Almost forbidden to taste?” Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business?
Maybe they carry a celebrity’s name, or piggyback off a TV show. Regardless, there is almost no reason for these pop culture wines to exist other than to bamboozle the consumer
What do you do when you have lots of bulk wine (and know that the world is awash in bulk wine)? You make pop culture wine, whether named for a celebrity, TV show or movie, or something equally as wine-like. That the finished product is overpriced and of middling quality – at best – is irrelevant.
Not all celebrity wine is useless. The wines I’m writing about, though, don’t exist because the wine is worth drinking. They’re made because the grapes are cheap and the margins are high, and they get a lot of free ink, cyber and real, from the non-wine media.
Because, as I have written many times before, the scam’s the thing when it comes to wine consumers. Hence, some of the dumbest pop culture wines:
• Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty makes children’s clothing. Can someone explain the wine connection to me? And the wine isn’t cheap, either, costing as much as $30.
• A gaggle of film and TV wine from a California marketer called Lot 18, including labels from The Living Dead, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and Saturday Night Live. The best description of these comes from wine marketing guru Paul Mabray: “Fakers, not makers.” Besides, blow was the drug of choice on SNL.
• Downton Abbey. Overpiced French plonk that has about as much to do with wine served to upper crust English families as I do with $200 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon.
• Drew Barrymore wine. Barrymore’s problems with alcohol and drug abuse are well known, which baffles me. None of the drunks I’ve known could front for a winery, and they’d be the first to tell you so. And the less said about the Barrymore rose, the better.
• Star Trek. Kirk should have scrambled the brains of the marketing wise guy (didn’t it alway work on computers?) who thought of this. It makes about as much sense as the Star Trek: Enterprise series.
• Skinnygirl. It’s not so much the world doesn’t need diet wine, but that many retailers care more about it than they do real wine. A leading Dallas chain executive told me that the only way he would sponsor a Drink Local promotion was if I got Skinnygirl founder Bethenny Frankel to do the event.