Swirls: From “Flasq” to the Food Network to “Mommy” wines, thoughts on wine packaging, branding and gimmickry

Almost every day, the wine business brings us news of a new kind of packaginFLASQ-Merlot-Chardonnay-wine-Aluminum-bottleg, branding gimmick or commercial tie-in. This week I read about FLASQ Wines, which bills itself as “the first domestic  wine sold in 100% recyclable and quick-chilling aluminum bottles.” Would you be at all surprised to learn that the wines were developed “to suit active, highly mobile lifestyles and Mother Earth herself?” (Check out the Web site, especially the “Any Time” category with its heavy emphasis on boating, in which DWI happens to be a significant  problem.)  Ah, yes, and then there’s the wine itself. “No doubt,” says a press release, “FLASQ’s Chardonnay and Merlot varietals taste great, hailing from California’s prominent  Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties.” The wines are priced from $5.99-$7.99 for a 375 ml (half bottle). I have little doubt about the environmentally friendly qualities of the aluminum bottles cited by the company, JT Wines of St. Helena. But at its heart, this seems to be yet another example of a company coming up with a wine “concept” in which the wine itself almost plays a supporting role. It joins a growing list of wine bags, wine boxes, wine bladders, and other motley containers entering the crowded wine space. If any small, artisanal producers have turned to any of these packages, I haven’t heard about it.

Then there’s the line of wines, due out in August, announced last week by the Food Network, a powerful brand that will undoubtedly push sales of the wines far. The wines are (again) from California, this time from Wente Vineyards. They’ll be called Entwine and the project, we are told, was in development for 18 months. And what did they come up with? A a pinot grigio, a merlot, a chardonnay and a cabernet sauvignon, all priced at $12.99.

Before this week, I had no idea that there were two wine brands that appeal directly to overworked moms and capitalize on the word “Mommy.” Yes, there’s “Mommy’s Time Out,” which includes a garagnega-pinot grigio blend and a primitivo from Italy, and “Mommyjuice” from Clos Lachance Wines in California. It turns out, as Reuters reported, there’s a trademark fight involving the two brands, which, if nothing else, should send sales through the roof – and for far less money than any marketing campaign.

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