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
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.”
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.
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.
“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.