Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Wine is Cuter than Your Wine

I may not know a Chateau Lafite from a Chateau Marmont, but according to my wine rack, I am a connoisseur of cute. When I got home from Trader Joe’s with a bottle of Rabbit Ridge, I noticed all my wines had animals on the labels. Am I that big a sucker for soft and furry that I’d choose a wine for its terrier over its terroir? Hey, I own a wine rack. Shouldn’t that make me enough of a sophisticate to be impervious to subliminal marketing messages? Clearly my subconscious, with its uncouth taste in libations, can’t distinguish couth in advertising.

Once I got wind of my pattern, I decided to take a little trip to the zoo, or the wine section of Trader Joe’s, that is. There were kitty cat cabernets, gazelle grenaches, Shetland pony petite syrahs, muskrat muscats, and the wine glass menagerie went on and on. I was getting thirsty just looking at this adorable brood. Was it cockatoo hour yet?

So after doing a little research, I discovered there’s a category in the wine industry called “critter labels.” Apparently, after the introduction of Australia’s successful Yellow Tail brand with its colorful kangaroo for about $8 a bottle, wine marketers figured out that animals on labels sell. Now the market is oversaturated with these fun, friendly labels designed to make wine accessible to more people. Just who are these people that wine marketers are targeting, and what animals are they using to lure them in? Well, I put my drinking cap on and came up with this Lentil "critter label" breakdown:

Hello Kitty Enthusiasts A baby animal on the label gives these innocent worshippers of cutesy an excuse to down a few puppies all in the name of awwww. As their baby talk seamlessly segues into slurring, no one will even notice that they’re sloppy drunk. Label: kitten, baby bunny or any freaking adorable young animal

Cat Ladies The perfect accompaniment to a Saturday night dinner at home, they think of the cat on the label as a new male suitor. Label: domestic cat

Boone’s Farm Drinkers These low-budget drinking folk are used to the Farm, but if a John Deere salesman makes a big sale and wants to celebrate in $8 style, an animal on the label lets him venture out while staying in his creature comfort zone. Label: any farm animal

Jocks A fast animal on the label gives them a sense of speed and a winner mentality. It also makes them drink faster which means they’ll buy more wine. Label: cheetah, puma, ocelot, leopard, gazelle

NRA Members Some wild prey on the label creates an instant feeling of superiority over the animal kingdom without actually having to kill anything but the whole bottle. Label: deer, antelope, caribou, elk

Carnivores A picture of the animal they’ll be having for dinner tells them that this wine will pair nicely with their meal. Label: cow, pig, chicken, sheep, lamb, calf, goat, rabbit, buffalo, game fowl, fish (cat and pony, not so much)

Vegetarians The wine is a welcome reminder of their moral superiority for letting an inanimate printed animal live cage-free on a label. Label: See carnivore

PETA Members The label empowers them to fervently proclaim this wine to be cruelty-free as they get sloshed and plan their next let’s-spray-paint-a-fur fashion show event. Label: chinchilla, mink, fox, rabbit, seal, bear

Sierra Club Members Inebriation masquerading as solitude washes over them as they commune with their new wild life. Label: any animal

Bird Watchers They get an instant thrill from spotting a rare bird on the label without even donning their binoculars. Label: any endangered bird

Lotharios and Tramps An aggressive animal on the label gets these sexual predators all revved up and ready to conquer. That, and the alcohol, of course. Label: dog, tiger, wolf, fox, viper, vixen

Party Animals The label gives them carte blanche to be wild and crazy. Meanwhile, the drunker and hornier they get, the less women want to be around them. Label: badger, horny toad, dog

40-year-old Virgins Any animal gives these repressed nervous Nellies the confidence to act on their impulses without overthinking it. Until they start thinking about having to find both a designated driver and a willing recipient of their newfound sexual abandon. Then it’s a just a buzz kill, but they’re ok with that. Label: chicken

If you Like this article, follow me on Critter.

Related Links:

What Lettuce Type are You?

An Overthinker’s Guide to Saving the Planet

What’s Your Diet I.D.?


  1. You know what they say "it's always cockatoo hour someplace in the world" so drink up or cuddle up with these furry little bottles whenever you feel like it. GREG

  2. LOL...

    I do the same thing. I am a sucker for any label with a dog or a horse or any type of animal...

    or a cute name...


  3. I base my wine purchases on the typography of their labels. While I love Rabbit Ridge's Univers 49 Light Ultra Condensed, I generally buy from those vinters who use classy, all-cap serif faces, preferably in combination with an elegant script. Extra credit goes to those that use lots of important sounding, French words. Instant cred with the hipster cashiers at Trader Joe's!

  4. MIchiel, come on. You know it's the bunny!

  5. Terry Ann Seldon CalhounJune 7, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    Ya know it's kinda funny,
    I already wuz a "Bunny",
    When you twitter, you're already a critter,
    Whenever I'm able I prefer "Taste" to label,
    Not that I'm a wiz but rare wine sales are part of my biz.

  6. I'm no wine connoisseur but I like your system better than the points. It's more visual and has an appeal similar to horiscopes and personal traits.

    Now, which am I?

  7. Terry: I didn't know you were such an accomplished poet and wine seller! : )

    Andrea: I think you're a Sierra Club Member or Carnivore. : )

  8. so would your wine label be a laughing hiena? I could see that: you're histerically funny.

  9. You crack me up!! I love that you are drawn to cute wine labels. I think I need to look through my collection now and see if I fit into any of your categories! Cheers!

  10. I love that you are drawn to cute wine labels!