Meghan Bode On The Case Of Mislabeled Wine

Hi, everyone. Meghan Bode here. I wrestled the blog away from JM today for a bit of fun. Okay, so I miss my Tuesday mystery posts. Can you blame me?

Maybe you remember this post and this photo that accompanied it:

What we have here is a white wine labeled as a Pinot Noir. Oops. That’s just wrong. Pinot Noir is a red wine. But while JM caught that little error at the store, I suspected there was more going on than meets the eye. So when she prepared to open that bottle, I had her take another look at both the front and rear labels. She caught on quick. Here, take a look for yourself. If you need to see a larger image, just click on the photo.

Now, at first glance in the store, JM caught the “Pinot Noir” on the front and the “Pinot Grigio” on the rear. Good start. But we’re both archaeologists. Details are important in our line of work. Get them wrong, and our interpretations can be worthless. That’s not good no matter if you’re an academic or in the business world. So when she took a closer look like I did, a few more discrepancies jumped out. Take another look. Did you find them?

Let’s see.

This bottle has a real split personality issue, don’t you think? “I’m a red. No wait, a white. I’m French. No wait, Italian.”

Whew, must be tough living in that bottle! So what is it really?

Well, given the original photo, I think we can safely say this is a white wine. And, based on taste, it does seem to be a Pinot Grigio. JM and I don’t think a Sauvignon Blanc has been twice wronged.

But the French have some of the strictest wine laws in the world. Can Kiwi Cuvée be both a product of France and Italy?

Apparently, yes. In the new world of French wine making, there’s room for fraternization. A little web sleuthing shows that some French producers are breaking away from the strangling rules that have governed wine production for generations. The maker of Kiwi Cuvée, Lacheteau, is French. It’s based in the Loire Valley. But note how the back label indicates the grapes are from Veneto, a region in Italy, not France. Not so very long ago, this would have smacked of heresy in France.

But the times, they are a-changing. Lacheteau’s ownership has partnered with growers and wineries in other countries to produce new versions of traditional French wines in order to compete with countries like Australia. In fact, this shift in attitude extends beyond wine. After all, I never thought I’d see French vodka on the shelves, but it happened. And what’s more unexpected to traditionalists, a “French” wine brand named Fat Bastard or the English partnership behind it?

It makes you realize that anything can happen, right? The unexpected can become reality. And if the French can shake off their traditional wine appellations and straightjacket rules, then surely an archaeologist can write a novel about a “fictional” archaeologist. And if she sets her mind to it and works with me, we can make it a good story.

By the way, those quotation marks don’t mean I’m just a pseudonym for JM. They mean I’m not fictional. I may not live in your world, but I exist in mine. And in mine, it’s time for a relaxing glass of wine. JM says that Pinot Grigio was quite refreshing….

38 thoughts on “Meghan Bode On The Case Of Mislabeled Wine

  1. That’s a very confused bottle of wine!
    Some odd things happen with labels in Spain. If you go to one of the regions famous for wine, you can buy wine without a label at a fraction of the cost because the producer is waiting to fulfill the requirements for the label.

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    • Wow, I don’t buy a wine because of the “prestige” of the label, so I’d love the chance to buy some great wines at a low cost! That sounds like a wonderful opportunity. And Spain makes some of my favorites. Someday, my husband and I will get there, and we plan on enjoying some bottles while we’re there. 😉

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  2. I’m impressed that you picked all that up. Given I’m not a wine drinker, I’d never know the difference. Then again, I imbibe in an occasional beer, and I probably wouldn’t notice anything up with the label there, either. Good thing I wasn’t a detective…

    As for: ” surely an archaeologist can write a novel about a “fictional” archaeologist.”—Absolutely she can. Who better to do it? 🙂

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    • I usually look more at the store/employee write ups than the labels when I’m shopping. That’s what led me to this bottle in the first place. I won’t pretend to know a lot about wine, but I did catch that “pinot noir” right away. 😉

      Some years back, I saw a great special on TV—John Cleese did a show that was basically “wine for dummies.” And one of the things he did was serve his guests with a “glass” of wine—in dark “sippy” cups. They couldn’t see what they were drinking. Then he asked them to identify what they were drinking at the “simplest” level—was it red or white? Half said red, half said white. Half were wrong, of course! 😀

      I just don’t want to be one of those writers who, by writing “what I know,” makes it sound too much like a text book. 😉 I think I’ve avoided that for the most part, but I stay vigilant.

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        • My theme centers on the lingering legacy of a social issue, and I’m trying to avoid those same pitfalls, too. Someday, when I pick up Death Out of Time again, I need to address that preachiness/author voice….

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    • Thank you, Gemma! While JM and I both enjoy a nice glass of wine, neither of us is too serious about it. But this label mix up really had me wondering what was going on behind the scenes. I had no idea some French producers were pushing the boundaries like this!

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  3. What a fun and clever post. I caught the France/Italy discrepancy and wondered how a winemaker could mix up labels–fraud, I thought? I know, so cynical. How much more interesting to learn about partnerships across countries.

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    • Thanks, Jagoda! It’s funny how times have changed. I can remember a tasting back in the early 2000s, and there was a really good French wine included. Then the folks told us there wouldn’t be any more of it because the vineyard had planted and used “unapproved” grapes for the region. They had to pull out the vines or lose their rights to produce “approved” wines.

      Now? Partnerships with other countries. Creating brands like “Fat Bastard” that sound as if they come from Australia or California. What a difference a few years can make!

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  4. Meghan, it’s so good to hear your voice again!! 🙂 Thanks for the wine lesson, I never got into alcohol, has always tasted like gasoline to me (or what I think gasoline would taste like, I’ve never actually had a sip). I’m more of an orange soda kinda girl … but give me enough of that sugary drink and I’m as loopy as anyone else at a party 🙂

    Glad to see you taking charge and getting JM to keep you on center stage. Hope to hear more from you soon!

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    • Thank you, Arlene! I’ve missed you and the others, too. I suppose I can understand why JM needs a break from the “live” writing, but I really enjoyed it. Honestly, she should know I wouldn’t write her into a corner!

      Soda’s really not my thing, but I do enjoy a glass of wine after work. I’d hate to think what gasoline tastes like—the smell is bad enough!

      I’m hard at work convincing JM that she has what it takes to write this next story. Slow progress at times, but I’ll stick with her. Maybe I should see about planting ideas in her dreams….

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      • Ooh, ideas in her dreams, I love when that happens! Hopefully she won’t be too sleepy to write them down when she wakes up. I’m with you, I have no doubt JM can do it!! 🙂

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  5. Love the idea of writing through your character’s voice. Interesting information about the wine, too. I may have never noticed the label inconsistencies (until I opened the bottle, that is).

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    • Writing from the characters’ voices is fun, and a good exercise I think. 😉 I’ve done a few before and had a good time with them. Anything that helps me move forward and get a clearer image of them in my head is good.

      If this bottle had been shelved with the Pinot Noirs, people would have been in for a surprise, especially if they really didn’t look too closely at the bottle. But since it was rightly shelved with the Pinot Grigios, I bet some people have never noticed. And it did make for a fun blog post. 🙂

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    • Well, Meghan was serious about that “wrestling” bit—she wouldn’t let me near the keyboard. 😉 I feel bad, though, that so few people seem to be around to have read her post. My August stats are brutal again, just like last year’s. But I’m willing to bet that since Meghan can’t get me writing another “live” story anytime soon, she’ll want to do more posts like this. 🙂

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  6. We love Spanish wine, too. That bottle’s front label is quite nice….Visual presentations are important to me…and those write ups in the store. Perhaps the wine has something of a confused personality – or wishes for another life…and is wiling to try unconventional means to get one …or maybe it just liked you and was determined to slip back home with you. (Wine can be so confusing.)
    Nice you get to take a break from all that detective archeology work once in a while…al wok and no play will make one wine.

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    • This was the first time I’ve ever notice such a glaring mistake on a wine bottle’s label. And Meghan jumped on it as a chance to write a post for herself. Maybe the wine’s father is Italian and its mother, French? Whatever its true genealogy, though it was a nice Pinot Grigio for under $10. Next time I’m at the store, I’ll have to check for more bottles. Maybe someone will have added a note that the wrong label is on the front. 🙂

      Once fall really sets in, I’ll probably switch back to some red wines—Spanish tempranillo, Australian Shiraz, California Zinfandel….. Not all at once, of course!

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    • Thank you, Andrea. I’ve been busy working with JM, and I think it’s paying off. I suspect readers will be happy to hear her news in Tuesday’s post…. 😉

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  7. Pingback: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner | Writing Pieces of Me

    • Thank you so much, INM. 🙂 Labels aside, this was a nice Pinot Grigio, and I really enjoyed it. I’m heading back to the same store later this week, and I’m curious if anyone has pointed out the mistake, yet!

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  8. LOL I feel like that bottle of wine sometimes, Meghan. I bet you do too. Am I opening my wine too quickly to notice these things? Absolutely.

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    • Yes, there are some days when I’m not sure who I am or what I’m supposed to be. And now I seem to be the moderator for all three of JM’s WIPs on top of my normal job…. Well, I suppose I asked for it! Ah, yes, the important thing about a bottle of wine, or any such thing, is the substance, not the packaging, right? And JM tells me a very nice Pinot Grigio was hidden behind that label. 😉

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    • I’m quite confident in my existence, even if it doesn’t take physical form in your world. We all live in a multiverse of infinite possibilities—including the possibility that some of us in some universes have found ways to communicate with those of you in others. Which reminds me, I need to find that universe where Caleb lives…. 😉

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    • Well, JM got to finish it, but I had to settle for “vicariously” sampling it from her creative mind. 😉 Interestingly, when she went to that store today, there were no more bottles of this wine in its bin!

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    • Absolutely. Some writers say they create their characters and stories. That’s fine for them and I don’t doubt them. Others, like me, are just as confident the characters do exist “somewhere else,” and they have a way to get in our heads and offer stories—either their real adventures or something similar. And we’re not crazy for thinking that way.

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