That seems like it’s about to change. While there has been some undercurrent of sexy images on many wine labels over the years, it hasn’t been very pronounced. Is there a point where it crosses the line? I am reminded of the famous line uttered by Justice Potter Stewart in 1973 regarding pornography:
“I shall not today attempt further to define [obscenity]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it….”
Ultimately, there are people who will take offense with these labels, as there are people who take offense at the whole notion of alcohol being legal. We regard these issues as personal conclusions that we each must reach. Marketers need to appeal to enough of the population to make their efforts popular, and are not against turning off a segment of the population in the process. So where do you fall on these sexy, salacious and sometimes downright saucy wine labels?
Photo courtesy brendaj via Flickr/CC
Savanna Samson Sogno Uno, Sogno Due and Sogno Tre
Savana Samson might just be the sexiest winemaker around, so finding her labels a little risqué might be expected. The truth is that the labels for her Sogno Uno, Sogno Due and Sogno Tre wines are more playful than risqué, recalling the great pin-up art of the 1940s and 50s. The original Sogno Uno label is perhaps the most suggestive of these.
1975 Kenwood Artist Series
Sonoma County’s Kenwood Winery has a long history, but in 1975 they inaugurated the premium Artist Series of wines with a specially labeled bottle. The art used for the label was created by David Lance Goines, and featured a nude women reclining on a hillside. The BATF deemed the label to be obscene and indecent, causing Kenwood to not only make adjustments to get the label approved by removing the nude, but also to gain reams of press for the efforts.
1994 Kenwood Artist Series
Kenwood was willing to serve as the nation’s barometer, at least as it pertains to sexy labels. In 1994, the work of Mr. Goinces was resubmitted, sans lovely pastoral scene, only to be approved by the BATF. Now everyone got to see what all the fuss was about!
1993 Mouton Rothschild
One has to wonder if the furor raised by the BATF over the 1993 Chateau Mouton Rothschild label had anything to do with Kenwood catching a break just one year later. The images are fairly similar in level of scantily-cladness, after all. To comply with the BATF, Ch. Mouton simply removed the artwork from their label, leaving in its place a pastel field of boring uniformity that was readily approved.
For a brief moment there in 2008, Playboy dipped their, err, some part of the anatomy into the wine waters. Fittingly, the wines paid tribute to some of the women who helped turn Playboy into a household word. Most of the labels were totally G-rated, though one got a little cheeky! The Playboy Wine Club was short lived, a victim of a shrinking economy perhaps.
Just to prove that as a country we have not yet lost all sense of the decorum of the late 17th century, the Alabama Beverage Controlled Board stepped up in 2006 and fulfilled their mandate to ban any alcoholic beverage label that showed “any person(s) posed in an immodest or sensuous manner.” Recalling ol’ Justice Potter, I see! Instead of dealing with the issue, the producers simply sold “Banned in Alabama” T-shirts that not only let everyone know what was going on in Alabama, but made up for the lost sales many times over!
1999 Peter Lehmann Semillon
Not everyone can fight the law. Sometimes the law wins, sort of. The BATF banned this label based on the obvious pair of issues. So what did Peter Lehmann do? Threw a bra on the fun. That was enough to satisfy the BATF, but some of us might just think this set would be sexy under restraints anyway! Way to go BATF!
Marilyn Monroe, her name simply suggests sexiness even years after her passing. Many may not recall that Marilyn posed for Playboy in 1953. Those risqué images somehow remain beyond the pale, even though they adorn a beverage that is limited to adults aged 21 and up. Crazy if you ask me. Marilyn Wines has found a way around, or maybe over, this issue. The first ever peel and peek label allows a modest bikini to be draped over the nude, reclining Marilyn. When you get home you might be able to lift off the film revealing the glory that is Marilyn Monroe, birthday suit and, well that’s all!
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