Enough with the cryptic back text

When you pick up a bottle of wine you expect to learn a few things from reading the label. Perhaps where the grapes are sourced from, or what the wine tastes like.

Not about a duck “pretending to be a mini-hovercraft.”

We recently tried a bottle of Canard Sauvage Zinfandel from Sonoma County and found it to be a pleasant wine, but the label back text gave me a headache. I’ve noticed a trend with some wineries to make the copy on the back labels, or “back text” to be too cute for comfort. This is part of a larger trend to make wine fun and consumer friendly, but like all trends it can go too far.

This particular bottle label focused on a duck known to the winery staff that seems to hang out around the winery barrels and: “He staggers around in circles … raging at the world around him.” Well, that’s great, but how about what your wine tastes like and where you grow your grapes? I’m sorry for being such a traditionalist, but perhaps you could enlighten me about the flavor, aroma or winemaking that went into crafting this wine. No?

Wine should be an easy to appreciate product for every level of consumer from the sophisticate to the newbie. Labels are the first point of introduction, and while it may be tempting to try a very creative approach to your introduction, a simple handshake is always the best. Let me know what I’m tasting and how you describe the flavors. I don’t need to know that: “We love him, though for he is. Watch him waddle … watch him fly … ’round and ’round in circles … quacking in rage!” I really don’t.

Yes, I get it, savage duck, or Canard Sauvage, but really c’mon, too cute is too cute. This is coming from an Oregon Ducks fan too!

I recall opening a bottle of 1980 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon. The back label was filled with technical details such as the brix level at which the grapes were picked, Ph levels and acidity. Now, that’s too technical and thankfully the industry has transitioned from that to using labels more helpful to the average consumer. Going too far to the other side — too cute for your own good — is just as bad as being too snobby.

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