Saturday, 8 January 2011


Don't worry we all have at some stage!

So how is it that so many of us get taken in? Well here are some examples which feature some of the most well known brands.

Blue Nun.

Was created by German company H. Sichel Sohne in 1923. I was the worlds first mass marketed wine and at it's peak in the 1980's sold 1.25 million cases in the US alone!

Take a look at the picture above. It leads the unwary wine drinker to believe so much without putting anything into print. So what do we see? First of all we see a Nun. Everybody trusts a Nun! We see her carrying a basket of grapes in a vineyard. This infers that that the grapes are hand picked in small quantities by hand in a vineyard! Not only that but this back breaking labour of love is being carried out by a Nun! All of this conveys quality and trust.

But it couldn't be further from the truth. It wont surprise you to know that a no stage has there ever been a Nun involved in the production of this wine. The grapes used are mass harvested by machine from huge vineyard's all over Germany and the wine is produced factory style. How else could they keep up with such huge demand? Now if all that was depicted on the label would you still by it? No one is saying that the over all standard of the wine is below par it's just that the quality is very subtly over stated.

Here's another good one. Matues Rose.

Another one of the worlds first and biggest mass marketed wines.

Once again look a the label. The picture of this grand palace infers by association that the building sits on the vineyards where the wine is made rather like the grand Chateau of Bordeaux. But no. This is the Palace Mateus. There is a connection but as with Blue Nun the wine is mass produced factory style.

The flagon shaped bottle is another clever ploy. There is an joke in the wine business that says when everybody had a bed side lamp sales of Mateus Rose went down by 50% in the UK!

Do you see a recurring them here? All of the truly great wines of the world have a long and proud tradition. Most are made in relatively small quantities in an unmechanised way. Many of the grapes are still picked by hand and there is much human intervention especially in France and Italy. Now when you invent a wine with the sole intent of mass production you don't have any of that legacy to help sell your product and it would be illegal to make it up! But by using clever imagery you can infer all of these things.

First of all there needs to be a sense of History because in our minds history gives us a sense of tradition and that in turn creates trust and quality in our minds.

'Small' and 'limited quantity are real triggers for giving us a feeling of quality.That we are buying something special. A picture of someone picking grapes by hand and putting them in a wicker basket conveys all of this without saying a word.

Remember all of the big branded wines rely totally on huge marketing budgets to sell them and this cost comes directly out of the cost of each bottle.

Last but not least Piat D'or.

Remember the very famous TV adverts in which they state very proudly 'The French adore

Le Piat D'or' Well it might surprise you to learn that most of France has never heard of Piat D'or!

Once again mass marketed and aimed almost exclusively at the UK market.

Take a look at the advert from 1986 on YOUTUBE. No matter what you think of the wine the marketing is brilliant!

So the next time you are out buying wine beware! Things are often no what they seem?