Penguins, kangaroos and ravens are just a few of the “critter wines” lining retail shelves. By critter wine, I’m talking about wines that depict an animal on the label or include an animal in the winery’s name.
In the early 2000s there were a few such brands blazing their way into the wine market. Australia’s Yellow Tail brand was one of the first. Now there are hundreds. The proliferation is likely because marketers realized these attention-grabbing, fun and simple labels were working, as sales topped $600 million in the mid-2000s.
Of course not all of these labels have proved successful, but I think for those that have some of the appeal — in addition to the quality of the contents of the bottle — is in the relaxed, playful message these labels send. Some wine consumers simply don’t want to have to take wine too seriously.
Today more companies are not just using animals but whimsical, fun, fuzzy and even sexy labeling — not a bad idea considering how overwhelming it can feel when facing the array of options on retail shelves. If you had wonderful French Bordeaux last week for dinner, searching for it again is more difficult when all the bottles look relatively the same. But remembering a bright yellow flower, penguin or bull makes sense for many wine drinkers.
- 2017 Dancing Bull Zinfandel, California (about $12 retail)
- 2017 Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad Pinot Rose, California (about $14 retail)
- 2017 The Little Penguin Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia (about $11 retail)
- 2017 Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $9 retail)
- 2017 Frog’s Leap Merlot, California (about $52 retail)
- 2017 Ravenswood Napa Valley Zinfandel, California (about $22 retail)
- 2017 Bell Winery Big Guy Red, California (about $30 retail)
- 2007 Wild Horse Winery and Vineyard Chardonnay, California (about $25 retail)