From the rudest to the most absurd, from the unorthodox to the conventional, wine names have been a lot more creative and inspired than in the past. Some of them still carry the winemaker’s family name, the name of the château or domain, or even a poetic reference to the wine itself. This naming convention has certain merits but newcomers have adopted a more modern method.
Established or new winemakers have one thing in common: they all want to sell their wine. Regardless of the wine quality, the first step is to promote it and put it in front of the consumer with the help of various advertising techniques. There’s always the hope that the wine will go “viral” with the help of social networks and “bouche à oreille”, more commonly known as word of mouth. One sure way to help this strategy is to provoke and intrigue the consumer by coming up with an unusual name … like Fat Bastard. Who in their right mind would call a wine Fat Bastard? Now that’s overly silly and immature, don’t you think? Or maybe not… Let’s PONDER!
Fat Bastard is described as a “decent wine from the south of France with a cute little hippo that conveys the idea of a rich, full-bodied wine.” The people responsible for this wine are Thierry Boudinaud, a renowned winemaker, and his friend, Guy Anderson. Guy is a rebel in the wine industry believing that quality is paramount in a wine but that the average consumer hates the traditional intimidation placed by the wine industry. One day, Thierry had Guy try an experimental wine he had in a few barrels in the back of the cellar. It had a wonderful color and rich, round palate. Both men stood there in silence until Thierry exclaimed with his strong French accent “Now zat iz what you call eh phet bast-ard!” Both friends agreed that the wine was amazing and they could not withhold it from the public. When it came to name the wine, they naturally picked the expression triggered while tasting it.
It’s an absurd name — almost juvenile – but attention-getting and memorable. Some people undoubtedly criticized this highly controversial name. Yet, it worked beautifully… In just six years, it became an international success, selling hundreds of thousands of cases despite a few states’ aversion. In fact, the brand was described by BusinessWeek as a “marketing phenomenon.” The public on both sides on the pond loved the wine.
Imagine looking along a wine shelf. There’s Château THIS and Château THAT — and then, most unexpectedly, you come across a bottle of Fat Bastard! (Cue the vinyl scratch sound.) Most people bought a bottle because of the name and bought more because of the quality.
Fat Bastard is only one of a few hundred that took a risk and chose a name that won’t go unnoticed. Others include:
• Bitch, Sassy Bitch, Mad Housewife, Mommy’s Time Out, Middle Sister
• Folies à Deux, Ménage à Trois, Fourplay, Big Pecker, Ball Buster
• Big Ass Cab, Horse’s Ass
• Toasted Head, Gnarly Head, Plungerhead
• Fish Eye, Arrogant Frog, Goats Do Roam
• Barefoot, French Maid, Bohemian Highway
• Red Guitar, Pinot Evil, Running With Scissors
• Marylin Merlot and the Naked Grape, Merge’nTina, Bearitage
The list really is endless and some are even less conventional as those listed above.
This funny radio commercial produced for major wine retailer Total Wine & More by World Wide Wadio (a successful and creative post-production company in Hollywood, CA.) shows the vast variety of wine names that are currently in use.
A similar concept has been replicated in this TV commercial for the same wine merchant.
Wine names: There’s always a story behind them. Let’s not judge wine based on its title. We all must remember to stay open-minded because what matters most is not the outside but the inside :)
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