Exploring Biases with 40oz Rosé

40oz Rosé is a sustainably farmed wine made by French wine maker Julien Braud in the Loire Valley. The wine was created by famed New York City Sommelier Patrick Cappiello. It is crafted of a blend of Gamay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Pinot Gris, and Pineau d’Aunis.

This wine was introduced to me in a passing conversation of industry professionals who were turned off by the concept. My second encounter with 40oz Rosé was at a local Whole Foods after lunch having lunch with a winemaker. In my recent travels to Chile, Bordeaux, and Franciacorta, as well as this lunch, I have heard repeatedly from producers small and large how hard it is for them to find good distribution and retail placement in Texas.

When I saw the 40oz Rosé with such prominent placement, in what I felt was gimmick packaging, I felt disappointed. I recalled the many stories of hard working wine makers, juxtaposed with how the average wine consumer buys the same lower quality wines decade on end. I felt frustrated that instead of elevating the conversation I saw 40oz Rosé as “dumbing it down.” I believed within the demographic context of where I encountered the wine it was being marketed as a porch/pool pounder to suburbanites with little or no understanding to what a 40oz bottle represents.

With my passion in full force (my husband does not call me fiery red for nothing) I took to Facebook to share my opinion and asked for thoughts. Big mistake – huge! The post has received over 300 comments. It was shared at least 6 times with many additional comments. And even shared behind my back into a group I am not a member where some chose to use their anonymity to bully.. Many chose wisely to stay out of the venom of the conversations and instead shared their overwhelming support via direct message. I find it disheartening that kind people with rational and respectful opinions recognized the environment of the comments had grown so inappropriate they felt if they raised their voices they too would be verbally assaulted. I don’t blame them for staying out of sight one bit.

What’s Going On

The comments on Facebook were fairly equal in support of my position and in opposition of my opinion. Many expressed their perspective with logic, reason, and respect. Some decided name calling, disrespect, and all-out attack as their mode of response. I took my lumps, replied to all who were respectful, and received a solid education in many ways.

James Tidwell, founder of TexSom, was a true voice of reason. He explained Patrick “tends to be thought provoking” and may be using his 40oz line to “play with such conventions as ‘wine is not beer and should not be marketed as such.’” James pointed out how screw caps, kegs, and canned wine was also controversial upon release. Overall James sees the “evolution of packaging [as] a good thing to bring awareness of wine to a larger audience.”

I was told I am an elitist (among other things I won’t repeat). I was also told I was not an elitist by the many who actually read my work and no such a thing is not true. I was told wine is a beverage and to get over it. Like I said some of the worse came from cowards who wouldn’t even say their hateful words to my virtual face. Thank God for good friends.

Many seem to find the wine fun and like the idea of wine taking itself less seriously. Others seem to think I need to take myself less seriously.

The Long and Winding Road

I gave some thought to my position and reaction and decided they may be right. This experience gave me pause to reflect on some of my own biases. I do have wine biases. Some are based on personal taste and do not house any judgement. Others really are just judgement. For example, I have never had Mommy Juice wine but I don’t like the message. Many joke about wine as “mommy’s little helper” and such. I personally do not engage in these conversations on social media or otherwise. I do not feel it sends the right message to anyone so I avoid it. That’s a bias. I am also biased about the idea of bottling wine mixed with coffee. It may appeal to some; it does not appeal to me.

I learned long ago not to judge a person by their “cover.” It is a great lesson and I have embraced it ever since. What I have forgotten along the way is to not judge anything by its respective cover. And that means a wine by how it is packaged. I made a mistake. I should have bought a bottle on the spot, taken it home, and tried it. Maybe written about it, maybe not but sought understanding before applying judgement. Like I said, I know better and in this instance I failed. I also learned not to share anything with emotion on social media. Humility is key, maintain it at all times. The sharks are lurking not matter what the topic.

Ball of Confusion

This is the Forty Ounce Wines mobile site cover photo. http://www.fortyouncewines.com

With all that being said there is another layer to this conversation. Some in the African American community have spoken out claiming the packaging of the 40oz Rosé is offensive. Julia Coney, lifestyle writer and consultant with a focus on wine, travel, and wellness, stated on Facebook, “its cultural appropriation no matter what Somm made it… As a black wine professional it’s a disgrace and has been since it launched.” She goes on to say she likes Patrick, has paid money to attend many of his wine dinners because he has such a talent for food and wine pairings, but she finds the 40oz wines “absolutely atrocious.”

I followed up with Julia in a phone call to seek deeper understanding. She explained to me that the packaging is offensive. Other African-American wine professionals have said they support any wine that can aid in expanding wine into the black community. However, Julia does not see this wine achieving that goal. The 40oz bottle is marketed to Blacks and Latinos in a racially offensive manner. She feels that when deciding packaging and marketing the people in the room should have gotten together and asked first “will this offend anyone.” There seems to be a clear cultural disconnect with 40oz Rosé.

Many of the white people commenting on Facebook could not see how this wine could be culturally offensive. To this Julia simply explains, “If you have never dealt with racism how can you say something is or is not racist?” It was my observation that instead of listening to learn an alternative reality from Julia, many immediately dismissed the idea and moved on. Opportunity lost.

Julia shared with me that she got into wine through traveling and trying wine with friends while she worked in the legal field. She believes talking to people about wine, teaching them how wine is made, educating consumers make a lifelong wine drinker. (I agree with her) “I don’t believe this is a gateway wine – let’s dumb it down and bring people into wine.”

To further explore this perspective read The Root’s article, “White People are So Happy They Can Now Drink Rosé Out of a 40 Ounce This Summer.”

Michael Phillips, 30+ years in the wine industry, shared my FB post to his page and continued the conversation by expanding it beyond color to a socio-economic class. His words come from personal experience. Here is some of what he shared on Facebook (I am sharing with his permission):

“40 oz beer in that shape of bottle in particular is the drug of choice for millions of chronic alcoholics nationwide… if you don’t live in a dirt poor inner city “ethnic” area you would have no reason to know this… I sold wine…and beer in several of those areas as a route salesman and manager a long time ago for almost 10 years… that bottle epitomizes poor, ‘ethnic’ American alcoholism more than any other symbol… THAT is my issue with this rose … to me, marketing this rose in this package is THE symbol of white social privilege and by association; unintentional racism in America today….BAD IDEA…and is a direct, ugly laugh at the expense of chronically poor alcoholics in run down, inner city ‘ethnic’ areas all over America.”

40oz Rosé

The first person to comment the wine was good is Cassidy Havens of Teuwen Communications. I respect Cassidy greatly. She told me I should try the wine, so I did.

Here are my thoughts:

It’s important to note the 40oz Rosé is actually a liter, 33.8oz. Misleading? You decide. It’s from the Vin de France appellation (meaning the grapes can come from anywhere in France). Specifically these grapes came from Muscadet and Touraine in the Loire Valley. It is crafted of 35% Gamay, 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 12% Grolleau, 5% Pineau d’Aunis, and 2% Pinot Gris. The alcohol percentage is 12.5%.

It a pale salmon into the glass. Medium aromas of acacia, orange creme, strawberry, watermelon, under-ripe peach, Ataulfo mango, and lemon zest; it enters the palate crisp and refreshing with medium+ acidity; however, once it reaches mid-palate the acid sinks and the wine becomes flabby, a kiss of sweetness enters as the overall structure fades away; it is light in body and short in finish; overall it was a good wine and likely a crowd-pleaser. I was struck by the difference in the entry to the mid/back finish – something goes awry. Technical notes say it spent a short time aging on the lees, this may explain the lack of acidity and loss of focus through the finish. Still, a highly drinkable wine.

The bottle does not stand out much among a sea of rosé.

I shared a photo of 40oz Rosé with my millenial daughter who lives in Austin. She thought it looked like soda. I told her it was packaged like a 40oz beer. She responded “Why? Who drinks 40oz beer?” I then sent the photo to my son. He thought it was Italian soda. My kids have no context for a 40oz beer.

Many mocked me for suggesting the wine looked like it was being marketed as soda within the context of where I encountered it.

Conclusion

“When people show you who they are, believe them.” ~ Maya Angelou

My overall reflection is in 2018, if you have something to say keep it to yourself. Many have thanked me for opening up so much communication and debate. Many have said this was all very good and useful. Quite frankly I regret all of it. I am a strong women with thick skin. I don’t get rattled easily and I chose to not take offense to the shameless people who tried to bully me. I know very clearly what people say is a reflection of who they are, and that what people think of me is not my business.

However, with all this passionate disrespect over an opposing opinion about wine, no wonder our country is so divided. I appreciate so many who chose to comment openly or in private with honor and respect. Do we all really want to be of one mind? Have the same perspective and thoughts about everything? We are not enemies because we have opposing views? We are unique with our own set of life experiences and perspective. When did that become a bad thing? I heard long ago if two people are just alike one of them is not necessary.

Why all the venom? Why the need to attach a person’s character because of an opposing view? Why the need to troll Facebook looking for a fight? Why are so many quick to respond with hatefulness instead of tolerance? When did disagreeing make a people enemies? So many biases to explore. What is going on?

 

If you are an importer/distributor in Texas and are interested in giving me your contact information to share with wineries I encounter who are looking for representation in Texas please do so – I will put together a list to share. Thank you.

40 comments

  1. I was a part of many of these conversations… including one in the We Like Drinking Tavern on Facebook (which was respectful from what I saw). I have to admit, I’m with you completely, and I couldn’t believe the venom people were spouting about your comment. For Pete’s sake people! It shows not only that you aren’t an elitist, but that people can’t actually have a civilized debate before getting into crazy. I saw you calmly reiterate your points over and over but people just got the “soundbite” and were on the attack. I’m afraid that this is the way of the world these days sadly.

    There are some good things to take away here… 1. think of all of the social media juice you got out of this. That’s gotta be worth alot. Secondly, people feel you are important enough to argue with… says your message is getting out there in general.

    You teach me so much with all of your posts. Keep going.. and hey, call people out if they bug you. Don’t let this kind of discussion stop you from raising questions and making observations.

    • Thanks Amber. I appreciate that you saw me maintain my composure. Like I said, I brought this all on myself. I had to take my lumps but felt it important to honor other people’s thoughts and voices. What is going on that people are so mean these days? I guess they have always been mean, now they have an avenue to spew their hate on a global scale.
      A few people have said how great it is that I generated so much conversation. Without the haters it was certainly worthwhile. Thank you so much!

  2. Michelle, my heart aches for you after reading this post. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog and the kind, gracious manner and humbleness you’ve put forth in the desire to share your love and knowledge of wine. For that I am grateful. I’ve admired your eager welcome to all and your professionalism.

    Unfortunately, the State of our Union has fallen into an age where civil discord, listening respectfully and respectful debate in general is increasingly rare.

    Thank you for setting a beautiful example and Praise God He has given you a thick skin like a Pinot Noir grape! I dearly love Pinot. Hugs!

    • Ah, thanks Allison. Life is filled with learning opportunities. You are such a kind woman. I hope we meet in person some day. As for the rest, this too shall pass. BTW, Pinot Noir is my favorite as well. Hugs and love back at ya! Happy Monday.

  3. Fantastic article, Michelle. I applaud you for opening a dialogue about this. Who would have thought that a simple question of opinions could open up such a torrent of division? I appreciate you sharing the various perspectives, many of which would never have occurred to me. I’m sorry people attacked you. I know it is hurtful. Haters are gonna hate, and trolls are gonna troll. Their words speak to their character. Stand strong and keep up you’re great work.
    Cheers!

  4. Fantastic post Michelle. I was reading/watching from afar on the FB post as well. I wanted very much to comment. But as you learned….it’s brutal & too easy for others to bully in the cyber world. I guarantee you 1/2 of those bully’s could not & would not have said those things to you in person. It’s why I too stay very quiet & keep to moderate thoughts on Social Media.
    I applaud you on recognizing your situation and opening up about it with proper research and pure honesty in your blog post. It shows your integrity. It shows that your human. It was good & real. It’s what we need more of in wine writing & in the world, for that matter. Keep on with what you do. Stay true. You’re the best & again, thank you for such a terrific follow up to your “Rose Repair”! LoL!

  5. Great piece, Michelle. I saw your post on FB and Twitter last week. I was one of the ones who chose to stay OUT of that fray!! For me personally, I’m not especially bothered by a 40oz bottle of Rose, I just wouldn’t buy it. But my guess is it’s marketed more toward millennials, who will drink almost anything as long as its trendy. For the record, I can’t stand the Mommy Juice message. I was bothered, however, by the vitriolic reaction your post received. People get awfully brave when they’re hiding behind the security of a keyboard. I wish there was a more elegant way to put it, but mean people suck. Here’s to rising above the “unwelcome sociological experience” (great phrase, btw). Cheers!!

    • Thank you so much. I started it so I had to see it through to the end, which I hope is soon. I appreciate your thoughtful words and perspective. I do recall you feeling the same way as I do about mommy juice. We are all human, biases sometimes come with the territory. But I welcome self examination and learning. Cheers!

  6. Michelle, I followed the threads of the various postings, and like so many others, decided not to participate, especially after I saw how many trolls pushed into the conversation. When I saw the photo of the bottle, my first thought was that it looked like soda, and I think that’s kind of dangerous packaging. My second thought was about how it was named, and it brought back memories of how certain beers and other beverages have been marketed to specific socio-economic and ethnic groups to take advantage of their poverty.

    Your description of the wine in this article is fair, and it probably will sell well to the general public, most of whom, like your kids, have no historical perspective on this kind of packaging, and to those who may not share, at the risk of sounding snobby and privileged, our somewhat elevated palates.

    I applaud your willingness to take all the vitriol and turn it into something that I hope can help create better communication.

    Cheers to you!

  7. My Friend: sorry you had to endure all of this. I saw your FB post, I had (and still have) an opinion which I will be happy to share with you when we will meet – but the unfortunate truth is that for some reason, it pretty much became normal for the people behind computer screens to lose any morsels of civility we might even hope they ever had… It is terrible and tectonic shift in the way we operate as a society…

  8. Thanks for this reflective, articulate post, Michelle. I chimed in to the FB conversation just to say that it was certainly giving me pause to look at my own biases. So, this weekend, when I went to my local Whole Foods, I looked for it. It was not to be found. I asked the wine guy, he didn’t have it on his list to order and asked if I wanted to special order a case. No, I don’t think so. I’m still curious, but not that curious. But I do appreciate your thoughts and do not consider you elitist in the slightest.

  9. Wow. What’s the world coming to when an opinion about Rosé stirs up cyber-bullying? 😦 I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment:

    “However, with all this passionate disrespect over an opposing opinion about wine, no wonder our country is so divided.”

    This is one of the many things I love about wine! There are SO many options out there because not everyone’s palate is the same. What you like, I may not like. And vice versa. One’s opinion on this shouldn’t be taken so personally by others.

    I’m new to the wine blogging universe, but have really enjoyed reading your well-written, thoughtful and smart posts. I hope that you continue doing you and that the wine trolls crawl back into whatever MOG they came out of.

    • Thank you so much! I will keep doing me. I am not typically a controversial person so don’t expect any ongoing assaults. I am thrilled you are new to the wine blogging world and look forward to following you on your journey. Thanks for your kind words and support.

  10. Michelle, thank you for sharing such a thoughtful, well written piece. It makes me quite sad to hear about your experience. You’ve certainly shown us all how to handle negativity with grace and class.

  11. Great article Michelle, and I appreciate your candid approach. Coming from a lower SES background, I saw it for what it was — a not funny joke. I am glad you explored the nuances of the debate — and the wine. The marketing is unfortunate and can and should be changed for the reasons you articulate above. The name should also be changed immediately — not only is it offensive it is inaccurate! I am surprised that the label and the name got approved in the first place. Thank you again, for taking this on in the manner that you did. If we truly want to be inclusive, we need to have these conversations about diversity in the wine business.

  12. Michelle, I love that you took such a thorough approach to your initial question and put time and research into this article. I am shocked that people took an approach of attacking you. That to me is the lamest form of communication and also the easiest. Thank you for asking the question that needed to be asked. I think it may give more marketers pause and encourage them to do more research. Either way, I am happy you opened the channels of discussion (and sorry you had to put up with immaturity and vile comments) and gave me a better perspective overall. Well done!

    • Thank you so much Kelly. I value your thoughts and perspective. You’re such a classy lady. I brought this all on myself so I feel it important to take my lumps and see it through to the end. I’m always willing to look at Myself and grow. Thanks so much for reading and always bringing light to the conversation.

  13. I am so sorry to hear there was so much Venom being slung around. I don’t understand why people feel it necessary to be nasty when they have a difference of opinion. What is wrong with seeing things differently? That is what makes the world go round, It is horrible that social media has become a place where people feel they can be inhuman to other people and say things that they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

  14. A really thoughtful piece on these wines. I’m not taking sides as I do understand both sides of this argument, but agree that it feels the conversation get unnecessarily charged very quickly. There’s a little too much of that right now in general.

    . . . Also, their white is much better but rosé gets all the hype.

  15. Well, you certainly sparked a conversation! While there are lots of bad marketing gimmicks (Skinny Bitch, Little Black Dress, etc… ad infinitum) I have always just ignored or not responded. I didn’t like the look of the “40 Ounce”, but I just lumped it in the Not for Me bin. Until Julia wrote and made me aware of the connotation to a large audience, then it turned into something else entirely. I don’t care how good the rosé is inside, it is a poor choice and I won’t give it another minute of free advertising. After all, they are looking for a reaction; good, bad, doesn’t matter.

  16. Wow, I’m so sorry you went through that Michelle! My goodness, people sharing it behind your back to make fun of you – shameful. Any nasty comments people threw at you were just reflections of themselves. But it is an interesting top regarding this packaging. As someone who lived a portion of my life in a poor urban neighborhood I can definitely tell you that this packaging does has negative connotations. But on the other side I’m sure that is not what the creator meant as I see many of my friend’s kids who are just out of college drinking them in a group and they seem to be having fun. Unlike other create ways to package wine this once brings social baggage that many may not be aware of. Again, sorry what happened to you happened. Much love, Cathrine

  17. Whoa — you really did endure a lot of venom for that Facebook post of yours! I remember that post, and nothing you wrote deserved the sort of online abuse you talk about. But these days, all too few people can resist even the slightest temptation to be sanctimonious.

  18. So sorry you had to ensure such vitriol Michelle. I don’t feel you deserved it. I’m truly at a loss for how we can’t seem to have a difference of opinion without it quickly devolving into name calling (and worse). But I learned the hard way, anonymity seems to provide license for what many really feel. I must confess when first saw your FB post I was a bit offended by the packaging. I wasn’t offended by your perception of the product. The whole 40oz thing smacks of targeting folks of a certain social economic class and yes cultural appropriation (especially when I saw that it was being sold at WFM) . Having said that I didn’t give it too much thought, we have far larger issues than wine to grapple with when it comes to race. I applaud your reaching out to seek reasoned opinions on both sides of the issue. You’re a true professional who is compassionate and caring. I appreciate that. I also appreciate your candor in confronting your own biases (I have my too, I was recently approached about a sample of a canned wine I felt was targeted at women, and don’t get me started on critter wines). Your writing is an inspiration to me. And proud to call you a friend. Keep up the great work! Haters are gonna hate…(and now more than ever it seems)…

    • Thank you so much Martin. I really appreciate your perspective. You right about so many things – ugliness behind anonymity, race, appropriation. Much more important things to focus on with all of these topics than a bottle of wine. You are also an inspiration to me and I too am proud to call you friend. I hope some day you, Gigi, my husband, and I can all enjoy a lovely evening of wine, food, and good conversation. Until then see you in the virtual world. Cheers.

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