Jun 19 2013
By Caroline Helper (@forgetburgundy)
Just last week I attended an exciting wine event – a tasting of “Top 100” wines that were chosen for their 90+ point ratings from all the top scoring publications. The high caliber of all the wines served combined with the venue, one of Puerto Rico’s top luxury resorts, made for a very luxurious evening.
One interesting aspect of the event was the presence of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky. The brand was promoting two of its newer and higher-end offerings, including a yet-to-be-released (at least Stateside) 18-year-aged blend Platinum Label.
The competition between wines can be fierce – with regions and producers battling it out for recognition and breeding tension. It seems a little odd that wine and spirit brands can play nice. After all, both wine and spirits are, at the end of the day, vehicles for delivering alcohol. Why the camaraderie?
As I viewed the attractive women shimmying in gold-sequined dresses and impossibly high heels entreating consumers to taste Johnnie Walker’s offerings, I tried to imagine a wine brand employing the same tactics. And therein lies the key to wine and spirit brands along so swimmingly.
While both wines and spirits court the same publications, rely on the same measure of good scores and often employ the same poetics in their tasting notes, the context in which the two products are marketed are quite different.
Wine has become something that is sanctioned as a healthy part of an everyday routine – something equally appropriate to sip through dinner as on the couch with girlfriends. There are wines to drink on p
icnics, at the beach, on the couch and at the dinner table. Wine has assumed a casual place in the American home. However, I can’t think of a spirit that has succeeded in establishing itself as a sip-anywhere-anytime brand.
Spirits are something glitzier, sexier and perhaps even still a bit taboo. While a gin and tonic might pair just as well with a picnic as a glass of Pinot Grigio, there’s something about the idea of drinking spirits before a
certain hour that still raises eyebrows. Something a little too reminiscent of Don Draper.
When it comes to restaurants, though, there are some notable exceptions – The Cat Bird Seat in Nasville or
Alinea in Chicago – spirits and cocktails still cede their place to wine when it comes to drinking during a meal.
Spirits and cocktails are still associated with the glitz and glamour of parties and clubs. You take a shot of tequila when you want to let your hair down, not sip a Chardonnay. But if you’re serving a beautiful roast chicken, you’ll probably reach for a bottle of wine before you go for the Scotch. And the marketers of these products wouldn’t have it any other way.
Jun 4 2013
Last week, as I was getting ready for work and watching the morning news, I noticed a Cheerios commercial that made me do a slight double take. The ad featured a typical American family, with a cherub-faced little girl asking her mom if Cheerios were good for your heart. The mom said yes. So, the little girl decided to pour the box of Cheerios on her dad’s chest – over his heart – while he was napping on the couch. The husband wakes up, sees the Cheerios on his chest and calls for his wife.
May 29 2013
1) Rums are the “IT” Liquor
It was only recently that I started to truly appreciate the sipping value of rum, falling in love with such brands as Zacapa. Walking around the Classic, I was thrilled to see an influx of rums, which, according to various mixologists I talked to, are the latest trend in top bars around town.
When I came across Dos Maderas Rum from Spain, my heart skipped a beat. This was a rum to remember at an unbeatable price (the 8-10 year aged rum sells for just $29.99). Made by the Spanish Winery, Bodegas Williams Humbert, the Barbados-sourced rum is aged for five years before being shipped to Spain. It is then aged further in sherry barrels from the winery, giving it a wonderful, smooth flavor with caramel notes.
May 22 2013
In the humble opinion of this New Yorker, the U.S. spirit market is reminiscent of a subway during rush hour – crowded like a cattle car. At least, this is what I’ve observed unscientifically in my neighborhood liquor stores, as well as booze industry magazines. This past weekend, I was proved correct at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, where over 100 brands came together for an industry sneak peek.
The event played host to all of the heavy hitters (brands like Bacardi), but also smaller companies making strides in the market (such as Jack from Brooklyn). And as I looked around at the sea of brands, I noticed something: some of them have been around for centuries. This got me thinking. How do classic spirit brands remain relevant with such a crowded liquor market? Good news for spirits lovers - here are three brands featured at the Classic with a rich history and quality in the bottle!
Apr 4 2013
For the first time since the 1980s, Americans are drinking more water than soda. Industry tracker Beverage Digest recently released data showing that the average amount of water that people drink has increased 38 percent since soda consumption peaked in 1998. Now, we drink an average of 58 gallons a year, with bottled water contributing to about 21 of those gallons.
Why has water replaced soda as our beverage of choice? Sorry Mayor Bloomberg, it has nothing to do with your proposed legislation. Experts credit convenient, soda-style packaging and effective public health campaigns.
Most public health campaigns have been created by non-profits and local health departments. In a David versus Goliath story, these organizations have managed to beat out the big budgets and pop stars associated with Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola (No need to feel bad for them, though. Coca-Cola owns Dasani, VitaminWater and SmartWater. Pepsi-Cola owns Aquafina, Propel and SoBe Lifewater.).
How did water beat soda? By using five tips that can be applied to just about any public health campaign:
Mar 20 2013
Once upon a time, my drink of choice was a vodka tonic. I relived that time of my life when I saw a scene from The Last Days of Disco last weekend in which Chloe Sevigny’s character is given a vodka tonic. She says, “That’s odd he knew I drink vodka tonics. I never told him… I mean, it’s a complete cliché? All women recent college graduates drink vodka tonics?” She then decides she’d rather have a whiskey sour (to see the scene, start at 2.50).
I can relate to that.
Mar 13 2013
I love science, especially when research findings justify my self-prescribed glass of wine after a long day. So far, 2013 has not disappointed with new studies on the health benefits of wine. In February, the New England Journal of Medicine announced that roughly 30 percent of heart disease-related deaths can be prevented by switching to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans … and seven (!) glasses of wine per week. It gets better! Researchers from Detroit discovered resveratrol in red wine isn’t just good for your heart, but may also prevent hearing loss. It seems that
an apple a glass of wine a day does, in fact, keep the doctor away. Beer drinkers have reason to celebrate, too. Researchers at Granada University in Spain found beer can help the body rehydrate after a workout better than water or Gatorade. Cheers to that!
With all this great news for wine and beer lovers, how do you communicate these health benefits without waking up with a major PR hangover the morning after?
Mar 6 2013
I am a cross-drinker – an equal opportunist when it comes to alcoholic beverages. I love wine. I love bourbon. Oh man, I freaking LOVE craft beer. What I’m drinking depends on my mood, the season, who I’m with, how bad my day was, what I’m eating, whether the Yankees won, or perhaps most importantly, what I can afford.
Now that my disposable income-sucking kiddo has joined the family, my taste has tended more toward the affordable gems than the rare, high-ticket bottles I once enjoyed during my split-second, DINK phase. For a few fitskies, I can get a four or six-pack of 12 oz. craft brews perfect for after-work sipping, or paired with my favorite manchego. THAT is the true beauty of craft beer. I think I have personally kept Sierra Nevada, Bell’s and Dogfish Head in the black over the past decade.