Text Size:-+

Who Wants Pooh Bear on Their Wine Label? Apparently Everyone

We all do it. We all occasionally buy a wine based on its label. If you don't you either are lying to yourself or don't go browsing through wine stores nearly often enough. We are creatures that like to collect, and we are also ytail.jpg creatures who are attracted to, as a friend like to put it "bright shiny things," by which she means anything that strikes our fancy.

Apparently these days, the thing striking the fancy of growing legions of younger wine buyers is cute little animals. I shit you not. There are huge wine companies spending millions of dollars researching what makes twenty-somethings and early thirty-somethings reach out for that bottle on the shelf, and increasingly it's clear that the winning combinations are cute fuzzy animals in bright colors.

I mean, we all know that there's some truth to it -- Yellow Tail hasn't become one of the most popular wine brands in the USA just because it tastes good. There are plenty of wine brands that taste good at that price point that never go anywhere. So I've always believed that it had something to do with the kangaroos (oh, and the 150 million dollars they spent on marketing).

Apparently, though, this animal thing is serious business. "Is [this trend towards animals on the label] a fad? I don't think so," says one executive at the worlds largest wine company, Constellation Brands. "It is actually a representation of (new), younger consumers coming into the wine market and being excited by things that are different ... It may not be as explosive in terms of its growth in the future, but it definitely affords an opportunity for growth now."

They even have an industry term for these wines: Critter brands.

Like it or not, Yellow Tail has changed the way that wine will be marketed to US consumers, and we're in for a lot more of this stuff than we've seen already. Check out the story.

Comments (12)

lisa wrote:
09.26.05 at 8:04 AM

Hi, I am a wine educator in Philly and everytime my husband and I entertain, we try to throw some Yellow Tail in there. It is the one wine we know that all our non-wine drinker family and friends will like. And we have been right every time! My husband put it this way, "you dont have to think when drinking Yellow Tail. You dont have to say things like 'it tastes of currants and allspice', you just drink it and it tastes good". I think that says it all. So yes, it's a hell of a cute label, eye-catching and all, but the key also to most of these critter brands is that they are very easy to drink!

boyd wrote:
09.26.05 at 8:43 AM

By using "cute little animals", will wineries be accused of marketing to children as cigarette makers did with the likes of Joe Camel?

Mithrandir wrote:
09.26.05 at 3:40 PM

I doubt the animals-to-entice-children think will ever be a problem.

Alcohol has a very different addiction profile than nicotine. Nicotine addiction is fast and hard. Alcohol addiction not so much, baring serious genetic predisposition. Plus, it is harder to hide alcohol use than cigarette use from one's parents, and age controls are much better-enforced.

I don't think wine will ever become a problem among the young in the same way cigarettes are. Even if it were to become a target for under-age drinking, I doubt it would prompt a net increase. Rather, there would be displacement of some other illicit beverage.

Trish wrote:
09.26.05 at 4:57 PM

I actually think the Bonny Doon lables are pretty great. Come on!?! perverted monkey? who can resist? (well me-- ONLY because of the $29 price tag) I'm a cheap-o))

I'd put that up in my house as art!

crazy monkey....

Trish wrote:
09.26.05 at 5:13 PM

PS-- Here's the artist who created the Bonny Doon Toy monkey label:

if you're a BD label fan like me, here's the full list of artists:

09.27.05 at 6:16 AM

In the case of Cartlidge & Brown's Rabid Red, I hope the animal-thing catches on. While theirs is not quite so warm and fuzzy, with small, piercing eyes staring disconcertingly at you...


A really quaffable wine for the price!

Dustin Platt wrote:
09.27.05 at 12:21 PM

I gotta confess, I am guilty of buying Yellowtail originally for the bottle, as it was something new on the shelf, and I love trying new wines. Like Dancing Bull, however, I buy it not because of the label, but because I like the wines. It just makes it easier to find on the shelf, and definitely depends upon what I am in the mood for.

Olivia wrote:
09.27.05 at 2:18 PM

Taking animal wines upmarket, Rivetti's wines for La Spinetta have had a Durer rhino on the label for some time. I haven't succumbed to Yellow Tail's marketing yet, but have always been temped by these great labels with the quality reputation to boot.

Alder wrote:
09.27.05 at 3:13 PM


Thanks for your comments. I agree -- irregardless of the label, if the wine doesn't taste good, it won't sell.

Alexandra wrote:
10.07.05 at 12:10 PM

I think there is something to be said for interesting labels, especially during a time when there are SO many wines on the shelves and it helps the decision-making process when something stands out at you. Yes, you may not know what to expect from the quality, but that is part of the discovery. And Alder, that is why you need to try them all and let us know if they are down right good or plain rubbish!

How about this label:


Betty Skeen wrote:
01.17.06 at 10:34 PM

Okay but who can really resist the amazing colors and portrait of the beloved Gus... of Four Emus. How amazingly wonderful! Even though this wine is cheap... it's very very delicious. Let's all go emu, huh?

Mark Privette wrote:
01.17.06 at 10:37 PM

I'll agree Four Emus is quite delicious, and I certainly can't resist Gus

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Critical Consolidation in Wine What Has California Got Against Wineries? Dirty Money for a Legendary Brand Vinography Images: Tendrils Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters Off to Portugal for a Drink Vinography Images: Hazy Afternoon The Dark Queen of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Pégau Does California Have Too Many AVAs? Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 26, 2014

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.