Part of any respectable sommelier program includes identification of wines through only the wine student’s sensory perceptions. Be it the Court of Master Sommeliers, Institute of Masters of Wines or International Sommelier Guild, to name a few, the student learns to identify the grape varietal, region of origin, alcohol by volume and often even the vintage of the wine, simply through sight, smell and taste.
Joe learned to do so through courses with the International Sommelier Guild (ISG), as well as intensive study at home and abroad. (Ask his abused and beleaguered liver, it will tell you he studies a lot!) The good wife that I am, I have helped him with his studies. The competitive lawyer in me has signed up to take ISG classes myself in the Fall while he is bowling. Because I am guessing that I just might be able to compete with him much better at the wine table than I can at the bowling alley.
But before I start my classes, Joe and I are working together as Wine Detectives with other bloggers around the globe on The Label Project.
The Mystery Begins with a Book
Our journey through the label project wine adventure began with a book and a letter. A copy of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye arrived in a plain envelope with a letter.
Dear Amy & Joe,
“You’re invited to be a part of a global wine adventure called The Label Project…
“We’ve all heard about not judging a book by its cover but the real question is, how many of us judge a bottle of wine by its label?”
We’ve sent you this best-selling book to help get you thinking about the power of first impressions. Would you pick up this book based on its cover alone, knowing nothing about what lies between its pages.
When it comes to wine, the label is the first — and often the only — piece of information that a potential buyer has about a particular wine bottle.”
They had a point.
Likewise, there are many wines we might never purchase simply because the winery chose the wrong marketing consultant when settling on a label. Script and ornate fonts make us think “expensive,” bunny rabbits or bluebonnets make us think “cheap.” This is because we have been conditioned on what to expect from a bottle based on its label.
The label prejudice does not just occur with wine. Take a garden hose, refill an expensive “mineral water” bottle with basic tap, and serve it in crystal. People will swear they are drinking H2O from high atop a remote mountain in France.
The letter goes on to describe The Label Project; a global initiative to go beyond the label, uncover the true character of the wine inside the bottle, and the uniqueness of the region behind it. Over 140 bloggers from 12 different countries are invited to participate. Participants will receive 3 bottles of wine with sensory clues and facts about the region as well as tasting note clues to help us identify them.
We were intrigued, especially since the letter said “We’ll be in touch” was signed by simply, “The Label Project Team.” They had obviously done their homework, because the letter didn’t just say “Dear Blogger” or single out one or the other of us. It addressed both of us!
The Mystery Continues – The Email
The Label Project Team next contacted each of us via e-mail:
Dear Amy & Joe,
By now you should have received a mailing containing a copy of The Catcher in the Rye and our introduction to participate in The Label Project. We wanted to follow up with you and see if you were interested in joining the fun.
The e-mail goes on to refer us to a website that tells more about the project, and asked us to respond via e-mail by September 17. I quickly went to the website to view a video. The accent of the voice-over lady sounded a bit like that of Olivia Newton-John. Ah, perhaps a clue!
The website mentions contest to win a trip to the mystery winery. Non-U.S. participants are eligible win one of six trips. But alas, the United States doesn’t allow offering a prize contest in the U.S. as an incentive to participate in this sort of program. However, the Label Project Team did tell us that our participation may lead to a press trip in the future.
Press trip or not, I love a good mystery. So, I quickly responded to the cryptic e-mail address that we are indeed interested!
The Wines and Clues Arrive
On Saturday, I picked up a heavy box from our receiving agent. Inside were three crates marked 1, 2 and 3. Many of the bloggers received their wines one at a time over the course of two weeks. We figured since Houston is Hotter than Hell and Texas is notorious for favoring local producers over outside producers (Commerce Clause? What Commerce Clause? God Bless Texas!)
Each crate contained one bottle of wine with some clues. Wine 1 came with little spray bottles of scents, Wine 2 with chocolate squares that spell out “The Label Project” and Wine 3 with pictures of the region. All came with clue cards.
Win a Restaurant Gift Certificate: You Can Play Along!
Beginning Tuesday, we will post the clues we received from The Label Project along with some descriptions of our own. See if you can guess the wine! Add your comment below for your guess of the Varietal and the Producing Region. Any United States’ resident who guesses all three correctly will have his or her name placed in a drawing to win one prize of a $50 gift certificate to a restaurant local to their area from Another Wine Blog!
Watch for clues and Good Luck!