If you suffer from wine-list anxiety, there is a solution. Wines for Dummies. Not the book, the wine.
“It’s a consumable, which is definitely different from a book,” points out Mark Tucker, director of marketing for Vision Wine and Spirits.
In fact it’s a set of four consumables: a chianti and pinot grigio (from the Italian Nistri vineyard) and a cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay (from the Californian Delicato), complete with for-dummies phonetic spellings. (Hint: It’s not “peanut” grigio.)
“What made the book so successful was a level of education with levity,” says Tucker. “We wanted to do the same things with the wines.” Beyond phonetics, this means fewer “notes of toast” on the label copy, and straightforward pairing suggestions. (Cabernet sauvignon: good with red meat.) There are also QR codes that will take you to “technical sheets” for deeper learning.
The general concept is a natural extension of a trend that’s been going on so long that trend may be the wrong word. “In the last few years, we’ve been seeing a lot of these concept and lifestyle brands that have taken away the pretentiousness,” says Tucker. From Yellowtail to Sassy Bitch.
But the addition of the Dummies brand was suggested to the Wine and Visions owner, who got publisher John Wiley & Sons to agree to license the brand, down to the pointy-chinned mascot. The winery returned the favor by pouring the stuff at the most recent BookExpo America.
In New Jersey, where they launched May 1, Tucker says they sold over 2,100 cases to 500 stores and restaurants in the first month. They’re now in nearly 20 states and online at Super Wine Warehouse, and hope to be closer to 30 by September. Tucker says their focus is getting it into more states and into more people’s glasses, so they can taste and see that it’s actually good. “It’s not a gimmick,” he says.