Choosing A Wine Based On The Name

Mo Wine Please

 What’s In A Name?

Do you ever choose a wine just because of the name?

Maybe it’s something amusing like Fat Bastard or Mommy’s Time Out. Perhaps it’s a funny take on the name of a varietal like Pinot Evil or Marilyn Merlot.

Peter has dreams of owning a winery in Italy. He would produce only Barbera wine and call the winery Hanna. Get it? Hanna Barbera? This is definitely a pun that will play better to the older crowd…

He was crushed (no pun intended there) to discover that his other hilarious idea was taken: Dirty Laundry Winery has already nabbed the name “Kay Syrah”.

Silver Oak Cellars

Sometimes we select a wine to serve because we know the particular winery is meaningful to our guests. We always like to have a bottle of Silver Oak on hand when certain special pals are over because we know it is their very favorite.

Last weekend we were at Notre Dame with our college posse. Peter brought a couple of bottles of wine he had picked up on our trip to Oregon in June specifically to share with this group.  The wines were from Brick House Vineyards.

Thirty four years ago, or so, we were all hanging out at Senior Bar on campus when the Commodores 1977 hit “Brick House” came on the juke box. Arthur grabbed the hand of the nearest gal, who happened to be Elizabeth, and they danced the hell out of the song. It was a an epic performance that is legendary among our group, still.  Peter purchased the Brick House Chardonnay and the Brick House Gamay Noir to celebrate that fabulous dance and the friendships that have enriched our lives.

Wineries often get creative and put great care into the names of their wines, referencing some aspect of the winemaker’s personal life.

I was immediately drawn to Wallis Estate’s “Little Sister” as a great wine to give to our daughter, Annie.  I’m not sure if the wine is named after the winery owners’ second daughter or if it is meant to be the “little sister” to their signature Cabernet but either way, after I tasted the wine I was drawn to stock up on some for myself, too!

The Farm Winery The Big Game

Stanford University graduates might be drawn to The Farm’s wines “The Cardinal” and “The Big Game” named by the winery owners as an homage to their days at business school where they met.

But the grand-daddy of all wine name tales is that of the Owen Roe Sinister Hand red wine. As the story goes, in the 17th century, Owen Roe’s ancestors, the O’Neills and another Irish family, the O’Reillys entered into a rowing competition to see which clan would gain ownership of some very important land. They agreed that whichever team touched land first would win. The O’Neill’s boat was lagging a bit behind so one of the rowers in the boat took a sword, lopped off his hand, and threw it to shore. Since his hand “touched” land first, the O’Neills won the title to rule the land which remains in the family today.

How’s that for a story?!

The story, along with great reviews, convinced Peter to serve Sinister Hand at our wine tasting party a few years ago. It was a big hit.

Are there any wines that you have chosen simply based on the name? Did they turn out to be a pleasant surprise or a one amusement and done?

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  1. We were checking out a liquor store a few months ago and because I sometimes still act like a 14 year old, I chuckled a little bit over the Menage a Trois wine. And of course I bought it 🙂 It turned out to be a lovely inexpensive wine and I’ve purchased more bottles since!
    Trish recently posted…The Halloween ThingMy Profile

  2. Yabba Dabba Do what a great name your wine would have! I’d TOTALLY pick up a bottle!! 😀
    GAH!! I guess those O’Neills really wanted to win that land!!
    I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but how can you keep yourself from swooning and picking up a bottle of wine with great names like the ones you’ve shared?! (The next time I buy wine I will be on the look out for a really fun name!!) –Lisa
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  3. I love wine names, but especially labels. I am drawn to both at the store and love to discover pretty or unique ones 🙂
    Vicki recently posted…Fall Window TopperMy Profile

  4. this is so funny, mo. i actually don’t buy wine by the name. i stick with the ratings and what people recommend.
    catherine gacad recently posted…Money Monday: Real Estate UpdateMy Profile

  5. Such fun to think about the stories behind the wines. I happen to be one who judges a book (or wine in this case!) by its cover-at first that is. I enjoy giving the “Middle Sister” wines as gifts-who can refuse a bottle of Drama Queen Pinot Grigio or Mischief Maker Merlot? Not bad wines and a fun conversational piece. However, I recently bought a bottle of Bordeaux in France because it had the name and picture of Mont Ventoux on it and we had just visited the area. It was lousy!
    Lori recently posted…Halloween Costume MemoriesMy Profile

    • You just never know, right? Hope your bottle of Bordeaux wasn’t hideously expensive! It’s one thing to pick up an economically priced bottle because the name or label is amusing. Then you don’t mind as much if the wine is mediocre or worse but if you’ve invested some $$ in it that can be a real bummer!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Spending The Week With The GrandchildrenMy Profile

  6. I love those stories! I’ve never really paid attention to unique names of wines before, but now that I know there might be some fun back stories behind them, I’m going to have to look for some.
    Kristen recently posted…Halloween memoriesMy Profile

  7. Your post (and your first commenter) reminded me of when I went into a tiny little liquor store in rural New York where my daughter was in college. I asked for a Pinot Grigio and the only one they had was “Ménage a Trois” and the owner just couldn’t bring himself to say the name. We joked all weekend about having a little “Ménage A Trois” before dinner!

    I love your stories, Mo!!!

  8. Guilty!

    My favorite incident of choosing a wine based on name alone was for my mom (Alice) on her 52nd birthday.

    I gave her Alice White and Lindeman’s “bin 51”

    Sad but true.
    susan recently posted…Vicodin inspired Facebook UpdatesMy Profile

  9. Peter chose the wine in June in Oregon to share in November? What a wonderful thing to do. So meaningful and I bet everyone was so appreciative. Very cool.
    Love that you included Dirty Laundry – a mom I met 15 years ago at preschool is a family member of the folks that own DL and she goes up to visit them every Fall. Lucky gal.
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    • Yes, the Brick House Winery was recommended as a place we should visit while in Oregon. Once Peter tasted the wine and really liked it he picked up a few bottles knowing we had our annual football weekend reunion coming up.
      I’ve never had the Dirty Laundry wine but am drawn to it for their sense of humor. I’ll have to look for it at our wine store!
      Mo Lux recently posted…Spending The Week With The GrandchildrenMy Profile

  10. I got your Hanna Barbera pun, Mo 😉 Not knowing a thing about wine, I will sometimes choose a bottle as a gift based on the name. I picked one called Middle Sister to bring to a friend’s house because that’s who she is. I have no idea how it was, though!
    Dana recently posted…Bursting the bubbleMy Profile

  11. A group of girlfriends from high school and I have a silly inside joke around goats. So whenever I see the wine Goats du Roam I always have to pick it up!
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  12. I love this post… every time I walk through the wine section at the store, I always chuckle at the different names. I always wonder how they come up with some of them. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a wine I absolutely love…

    Hope you are well!

    Julia @ Mom on the Run x2
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