Saturday, May 3, 2008

BRUT FORCES


Finally, someone in grape valley climbed out of the wine cellar to figure out what wine drinkers really want aside from great taste: peel-off wine labels. According to Trend Central, an Australian wine producer, Oxford Landing, is offering this consumer-friendly perk on their Shiraz . It’s no wonder since there are dozens of Internet sites that are willing to teach you how peel off a wine bottle label without shredding it—a near impossible feat, of course. I’ve discovered that it’s easier to remove an RFID tag from and iPod than it is to remove a wine label from a great bottle of 2001 Brunello.


Of course, peel-off wine labels present etiquette challenges. Can you simply remove the label from the wine you just bought at that restaurant? (Probably—it’s your wine.) At a friend’s home, however, the rules are different. You need permission before you defile that bottle, so you had better pop the question. Once you’ve collected the labels, you can now dig out that gorgeous, hand-stitched leather wine journal that you got for your birthday 10 years ago, paste in those labels, add your own notations, and pretend you’re now a wine connoisseur.


What amazes me about the peel-off wine label is that the Aussies beat us to it. That may sound like a typically xenophobic comment, but I came across the original patent for the “peel off wine label,” which was registered in the U.S. Patent Office in 2004. It took 6,957 words to register this patent, the same number of bottles of wine that I’ve tried to recall over my lifetime but couldn’t because I didn’t have the label. So why have the Americans and French (let alone the Spanish, Italians, Chileans, etc.) resisted this simple, consumer-friendly service when they've conceded to plastic corks, twist-off caps, even champagne in 6-pack cans (straws attached)?


Maybe they’re banking on the mini bottle sampler. Yes. Now, just like trying out your Benjamin Moore paint color from little jars before you buy the full gallon, a French company called Wine Side is offering mini samples in beautiful little vials. They claim the color and bouquet are authentic and that the twist off caps make them convenient and easy to access.


Maybe so, but there’s something special about wine labels. They’re like postage stamps—dated, often printed in beautiful, subtle colors, and once removed from the bottle, equivalent to being post-marked. They’re your personal history, not just a marketing pitch.

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