Whether you accept the notion that a single nose and its acclaimed-or-reviled 100-point scale have transformed the way wine is marketed and sold, especially in the United States, today there is a superabundance of bottles at American retail and more wine neophytes are earnestly cultivating a taste for the grape. Vineyards are fighting for a slot in the home wine rack via the only ad space many boutique operations can afford–the label on the bottle. Squid Ink presents the spoils of the wine war, our top 10 misguided, comical or outright disturbing wine labels. We are not reviewing the juice; merely trying to parse the branding on the glass.
10. 2008 Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris, Yarra Valley, Australia
You didn't know that Aussie Pinot Gris was the world's most homicidal grape. It's preferable to be targeted by one's wine, rather than caught in the crossfire.
9. 2008 Aresti Art Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Valley, Chile
Arguably it's too easy to lampoon cardboard wine. The fact that Aresti slaughtered the winemaker who bungled their cut-rate Art line and stamped his bloody hand-print on the box doesn't help.
8. 2007 Plungerhead Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California
This distinguished gentleman has misplaced his pants. And his hat. Also his dignity, which he has replaced with mustache wax. The bottle employs a proprietary Zork instead of a cork. It's as handsome as the plunger.
7. Non-vintage Pinot Evil Pinot Noir, Hungary
Generously labeled a “cask” rather than a “plastic bladder.” Considering the unfortunate pun, there's a good reason why.
6. 2008 Mad Housewife Merlot, California
What. Did You. Do.
5. 2008 Jessie's Grove Winery Earth, Zin and Fire Zinfandel, Lodi, California
Crafted exclusively to make graphic designers cry. Four different fonts, mismatched colors and visuals courtesy of the Microsoft Office 97 clip-art collection. “Old Gnarly” is taking a break from his other wine bottle appearances to guest with Earth and Zin.
4. 2006 Cabin Fever Zinfandel, Mendocino County, California
That dilapidated cabin in the woods is the safest place to enjoy a glass of North County red. That and monotony, fear, frustration, claustrophobia and acute distress. Remarkably, this is only the West Coast version of Cabin Fever. Upstate New York has a bottle by the same name.
3. 2006 R Wines Permutations Pinot Noir, Victoria, Australia
Things are becoming exceedingly complicated. There are numerous ways to interpret this label. Most of them involve teats.
2. 2006 Oreana “?” Red Table Wine, Santa Barbara, California
This one's a head-scratcher. Proven tastier than a semi-colon.
1. Non-vintage Ed Hardy Wines by Christian Audigier Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, France. Yes, France.
It's hard enough to swallow the man's trend-surfing trash couture, but this is something you actually put inside your body, as well as a profound triumph of branding over common sense. Audigier vanquished good taste eons ago.