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Category Archives: Wine Curmudgeon

TV wine commercials and their legacy

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TV wine commercials and their legacyKen Ross, at The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Mass., has a fine critical eye for TV wine commercials:

In commercial after commercial, for years and years, television ads created an elitist aura around wine that simply won’t go away. You need to live in a castle or wear a cravat to drink wine. You need to enunciate your words slowly and listen to Beethoven. You need to drive a Rolls Royce or have long, flowing blond hair that moves in slow motion.

Which is something that has been noted here several times. Wine ads on TV are decidedly unoriginal, especially when compared to commercials for beer and spirits. The orginal Miller Lite ads were groundbreaking, and even the recent Captain Morgan rum ads are interesting, if a tad silly.

But not wine. As Ross writes, “Watch a few wine commercials and you’ll start to notice a striking similarity from one bland ad to the next, especially during the ’70s and ’80s.” The reason? The wine business has spent the past 40 years using intimidation to market its product, bludgeoning us with Ross’ cravats. Wine isn’t fun like beer or rum, and you’d better not buy it for that reason. Or we’ll make fun of you.

Ross thinks the situation has improved, and links to 11 ads that he says demonstrate the change. One of them, for a brand that apparently isn’t made any more, is a nifty take-off on the old Grey Poupon mustard ad, and another, for an English wine retailer, captures exactly how terrified most consumers are when they browse a wine shop.

But that those two aren’t strictly wine commercials, and that four others on the list aren’t either, speaks to how pitiful most wine commercials remain. One reason for that, I think, is that the best wine marketers, companies like E&J Gallo and The Wine Group, which makes Cupcake, don’t do TV ads. If they did, they might reach Miller Lite heights (and a YouTube video for Gallo’s Barefoot line, promoting its non-profit Soles program, hints at that).

Or, with a little luck, they could scale the summit of the greatest wine commercial of all, Orson Welles for Paul Masson in the 1970s (courtesy of DarianGlover on YouTube):

Win two Savor Dallas tickets

Win two Savor Dallas tickets

Win two Savor Dallas ticketsAnd the winner is: KT, who picked 653. The winning number (screen shot below) was 797.

Win two Savor Dallas tickets for a Saturday winemaker tasting panel co-moderated by the Wine Curmudgeon, who may also mention a thing or two about the cheap wine book (and have some for sale).

Michael Green, formerly of the late and much missed Gourmet, is the other moderator. The panel is top notch: Dr. Richard Becker of Texas’ Becker Vineyards; Ralf Holdenried of Napa’s William Hill; and Sergio Cuadra of Texas’ Fall Creek.

How to win (and these are the rules for all Wine Curmudgeon contests): Pick a number between 1 and 1,000 and leave it in the comments section of this post. At about 5 p.m. central today, I’ll go to random.org and generate the winning number. The person whose number is closest to the random number wins the prize — and no, you can’t pick a number someone else has picked. Only one entry per person.

The seminar is at 11 a.m. March 22 at Bob’s Steak and Chop House in Dallas.

randon savor

Where was the copy editor?

Several astute visitors noted what seemed to be basic math errors in yesterday’s Big Wine post, and I’m grateful for their help. The good news is that my math was correct. The bad news is that my typing wasn’t, because I transposed several numbers when I wrote the post. This made it seem like the biggest  of the big U.S. wine companies control substantially more of the market than they do. I have corrected the numbers.

The overall point of the post, though, hasn’t changed: The top 3 companies control slightly more than one half of the U.S. market, the top six control about two-thirds, and the top 30 control some 90 percent. “In other words, all the wine that those of us who write about wine love to write about? Hardly anyone drinks it.”

As I noted in the comments, I’d fire my copy editor, but then who would write the blog?

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