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Wine That Answers the Question: What is This Shit?

vindemerde.jpgAmidst the tumbling financial markets, rapacious campaigning, and international crises of one form or another, we all need to slow down and have a glass of wine. Moreover, we all need to stop taking life quite so seriously.

I normally don't look to French winegrowers for a source of amusement -- they are a famously unfunny lot -- but apparently desperate times have brought out some humor in some wine producers in the Languedoc.

Faced with low demand for their cooperative produced wines in the face of their region's reputation for producing plonk, a group of winemakers have decided that they might as well meet the consumer's expectation.

So they've produced a wine labeled "Vin de Merde." And for anyone who didn't learn any French swear words when they got the chance in Fifth Grade, that means "Shit Wine." Or as the ever so proper BBC commentator puts it: "Crap wine." The rest of the text on the label says: "The worst signifies the best."

Here's a little piece from the BBC on the brilliant new label, which just happens to be selling faster than they can get it into shops.

Comments (16)

Arthur wrote:
10.22.08 at 12:14 AM

Alder, you didn't post a wine-searcher link. I want me some of that!

Anonymous wrote:
10.22.08 at 4:18 AM

Hilarious! I was wondering if the point of the name was being missed until I read "the worst signifies the best". "Merde" when discussing french wine usually refers to the barnyard and/or manure type smells found quite often in burgundy wines. It is not usually a negative thing, just another random descriptor.

Tish wrote:
10.22.08 at 5:10 AM

Bravo! Reminiscent of Cat's Phee on a Gooseberry Bush.... Apparently the best way to get anything past TTB label-screeners these days is to say it in French. Witness Coppola's new Carneros Pinot and Chard called "Votre Sante".

Leio wrote:
10.22.08 at 1:44 PM

That is fantastic. Finally the French take a step forward when it comes to labeling their wines. Don't get me wrong, I feel like a real oenophile when I can answer my girlfriend's question about what the hell we are drinking when I pick up a french wine. However, maybe the winemakers would be better served by catering to the consumer for a change (you know varietal, aging info etc on the label).

amy atwood wrote:
10.22.08 at 1:48 PM

Seems that wine labels are on the mind this week.
It is wonderful to see the French poking fun at themselves and giving consumers a well deserved laugh.

Katie wrote:
10.23.08 at 6:52 AM

I wrote about this a few days ago as well, and to answer your question, Arthur, there isn't any currently available in the US. In fact, he pretty much sold out his entire production locally. Let's hope some will come this way after this harvest!

Mike Tommasi wrote:
10.24.08 at 1:24 AM


Small subtle correction, the subtext to the main title means "the worst HIDES the best", or "the best things are always hidden behind the worst".

Actually all the french winemakers I know have a very good sense of humour, and the "losers" that Decanter reported about are not at all representative of the whole, on the contrary, they are a miserable fringe lot that cannot accept the idea that maybe producing quality might improve their lot :-)

One example of such humour came from a french winemaker that compared the Vin de Merde story to letting off a big fart in order to attract attention to oneself. It really only works once, and what do you do for an encore?



Katie wrote:
10.24.08 at 6:25 AM

Mike, as far as what do you do for an encore, you shouldn't have to if the wine is good enough, correct? As someone who lives in the world of marketing, I think you can use the label to lure as long as what's IN the bottle lives up to the hype. That's what will keep people coming back for multiple sales. Me, personally, I'd love to try the wine! Lord knows there are definitely good finds in the Languedoc....Les Heretiques, for example!

Alder wrote:
10.24.08 at 10:29 AM

Thanks for the translation help. My french is atrocious. And yes, that was a sweeping (and fairly tongue-in-cheek) generalization about French winemakers. Didier Dagueneau (whom we sadly lost far too early) sounded like he had a great sense of humor.

Tobias Øno wrote:
10.24.08 at 11:21 AM

To add my take to Mike Tommasi's correction, I even interpret the text to read, "Shit Wine -The worst.. ..hide the [good stuff]."

I don't find this case of French wine humour to be such an amazing precedent. There are already self-ironic labels such as Le Freak and Arrogant Frog..

Sherry wrote:
10.25.08 at 11:16 AM

Just as many take the risk to push their limits in order to offend people which gains them even more popularity - I just love the title of this post. Isn't an alternative to what the post is about called "gut rot"?

Dylan wrote:
10.26.08 at 2:15 PM

I appreciate this kind of branding very much, it reminds me of the Skoda campaigns in that there's already a negative perception, and they've leveraged it into something positive.

John Skupny wrote:
10.26.08 at 4:29 PM

mmm, can't wait to see what the TTP has to say about that label...at least it is no longer the BATF or sidearms would be invloved!

Karl Wilder wrote:
10.26.08 at 6:06 PM

Has anyone actually tasted this wine?

The biggest joke would be if it is delicious.

Alder wrote:
10.27.08 at 5:33 PM

By all reports the wine is pretty good. But haven't heard that from any reputable sources.

Winetaster wrote:
10.31.13 at 1:49 PM

I just purchased a bottle of this, and to be quite honest, for the price, it lives up to its name. Spend your money elsewhere

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