Fortunately for us, Drew Hibbert, CEO of Innovation Spirits (which will be marketing the wine here in the United States) took the time to answer some of our pressing questions about cats and alcohol.
And, no, you cat-haters out there, it will not taste like cat pee.
To your knowledge, is this the world's first cat-themed wine?
I'm not aware of any other feline themed wines out there, but the cat is definitely out of the bag with this one.
Whose idea was it to make a Hello Kitty wine?
Hello Kitty Wines were originally conceived by Camomilla S.p.A. which is a very successful fashion company in Italy that does a huge amount of business manufacturing and selling Hello Kitty licensed merchandise in Italy and beyond. Camomilla S.p.A. partnered up with Torti "Tenimenti Castelrotto" boutique Italian winery located in the highly regarded Lombardy wine region...Our company, Innovation Spirits, has been awarded the agency to market and sell the products here in the U.S. and other select markets.
Was it tough to get Sanrio to agree to let you put Hello Kitty on an alcoholic beverage? Her image is very sweet and innocent, after all.
I was not involved in the original approval process, but my limited experience with Sanrio indicates to me that they see the Hello Kitty brand identity as being somewhat mature at this stage and open to all kinds of product interpretations. Our tagline for the wine products is "Our favorite girl has grown up", which is done intentionally to indicate that Hello Kitty, in her 35 years of existence, has crossed over from being a children's brand to being a brand for children and adults alike.
What does the wine taste like?
The "Vinophile" answer is that the wines are DOC certified (Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata). Basically, this means that the wines are produced in specific well-defined regions, following specific rules of production. I could go on and on about this, but the shorter answer is that the DOC certification ensures the wines are of very high quality and that the taste is fantastic.
Here are some tasting notes for the four types:
Hello Kitty Sparkling Brut Rosé - A deep reddish pink sparkling rose made from 100% Pinot Noir that has a frothy mousse as well as a pretty nose of rose petal and red currant scents.
Hello Kitty Sparkling "Sweet Pink" (Half Size) - This semi-sweet sparkler sports a pale pink hue and has very delicate bubbles.
2008 Hello Kitty Angel White - This is a fresh, very "blanc" white wine made entirely from Pinot Noir free run juice.
2006 Hello Kitty Devil Red - Garnet red with brickish highlights, this is a classically rendered Pinot Noir that presents a seductive bouquet of wild flowers and forest aromas.
We have complete tasting and technical notes for each wine type on our website at HelloKittyWine.com.
In which stores will it be sold? And will the official Sanrio stores be carrying it?
Look for the wines to start appearing in specialty wine & liquor stores throughout the western United States during the next several months. We will also be selling the wines direct through our website within the next 30 days. I do not expect that the Sanrio stores will be selling the wines since they probably do not hold liquor licenses. The products are available right now at Hi Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa.
Has there been any worry that underage girls will want to drink it? Or that putting Hello Kitty on a wine encourages drinking among kids?
There will always be a concern when it comes to marketing a brand identity that has appeal to both adults and children. As a company, we follow all industry standards and guidelines for age verifications and ensure that our distribution and retail partners do the same. My take on it is this: with over 60,000 Hello Kitty sku's in the marketplace and at 35 years old now, she is definitely ready for more adult skewed products. I don't think that the $15,000 dollar Hello Kitty handbags are aimed at children either.