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Penguin Wine WaiterFrom ravens and black swans to dancing bulls and leaping frogs, “critter labels” continue to catch the wine shopper’s eye. A critter label is any wine label that includes a depiction of an animal.

In 2001, Australia’s Yellow Tail brand blazed the way with not only value and low cost but also a label — featuring a wallaby — that wine consumers found attractive and straightforward, setting it apart from the thousands of confusing labels.

Using critter labels to market wine isn’t new to Americans. Since the early 1980s, Frog’s Leap and Duckhorn Wine Co. have been earning respect for exceptional premium wines. As new and younger wine drinkers entered the market, companies began offering easy to understand labels with eye-catching animal images. A 2006 ACNielson report said that of the “438 new table wine brands … introduced in the past three years 77 (18 percent) featured a ‘critter’ on the label. Combined with existing critter labels … these wines have reached more than $600 million” in sales.

Today, companies are using not just animals but whimsical, fun, fuzzy and even sexy labeling. Not a bad idea considering the sometimes overwhelming feeling that buying wine can entail. If you had wonderful French Bordeaux last week for dinner, the search for it again is more difficult when it is shelved with others that look relatively the same. So remembering a bright yellow flower, penguin or bull makes sense for many wine drinkers.


  • 2008 Dancing Bull Zinfandel, California (about $12 retail)
  • 2008 Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio, Australia (about $10 retail)
  • 2008 Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad Dry Pinot Noir Rose, California (about $12 retail)
  • 2007 3 Blind Moose Pinot Grigio, California (about $11 retail)
  • 2007 Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon , California (about $9 retail)
  • 2008 The Little Penguin Merlot, Australia (about $13 retail)


  • 2006 Frog’s Leap Merlot, California (about $52 retail)
  • 2008 Ravenswood Napa Valley Zinfandel, California (about $22 retail)
  • 2005 Bell Big Guy Red, California (about $30 retail)
  • 2006 Duckhorn Paraduxx, California (about $59 retail)
  • 2007 Wild Horse Chardonnay, California (about $25 retail)