The Terrible Age of the Celebrity Pinot Grigio

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The Terrible Age of the Celebrity Pinot Grigio
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The Terrible Age of the Celebrity Pinot Grigio

Celebrities, those wealthy, beautiful people whose ermine-fur pockets we line with monies representing our adoration, are encroaching—nay, have encroached—upon something precious. Yeah, yeah, we're not talking sub-par handbag lines or their own jeans or shoe companies. Celebrities are co-opting something far more important. They've taken our wine. They've TAKEN OUR WINE. They've taken not only our wine, but that most average yet reliable of blends: Our pinot grigio. 

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We blame Francis Ford Coppola, really, for the popularization of the idea that celebrities had feelings and opinions and some good, innate sense (or, failing that, the ability and time to be trained about how wines and other beverages should taste and look and smell). Probably there were those before, and certainly there were those—and those less deserving of their own wine labels than Coppola, who's not bad, not bad at all—who came after. As a matter of principle, just because you like wine, do you need to "make" it? We love wine, and we don't make it; we don't even try to make it. We leave that to the experts. And certainly, we don't need to slap a label with our name on something that we drink. We prefer not to, in fact, for reasons beyond the fact that toting a label-maker around is cumbersome.

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This is why Rebecca Dana's piece in the Daily Beast on how celebrities are pushing further into the business of wine has us a bit worked up. And by us, I mean me. I am worked up. Ramona Singer needs to stay away from my wine. But she is not. Nope, she now has a second vintage—a second vintage—"the '11 Ramona Singer pinot grigio," a vintage that is "superior, in her view, to the '10." There's also an '11 Barrymore, a pinot grigio from, of course, another celebrity: Drew. Dana writes of these two, what I'll call, "celebeverages":

Both are light, crisp, fruity wines, which retail for around $20 (the Barrymore sells for up to $23 and the Singer can be had for as low as $14 on Amazon) and go down dangerously fast. So fast they could replace the Gatorade in coolers at kids’ soccer games with ice cold ’11 Ramona and no one would notice until it was way too late.

Ah, but it's already too late. Dana suggests we're entering "the golden age of the celebrity pinot grigio." According to Terlato Wines, their Santa Margherita label was the first to introduce Americans to pinot grigio back in 1979. In the years since, the wine found its golden-hued way into about every restaurant and bar in which you can purchase a drink. But with the advent of this latest celebrity trend-or-scourge, not only are celebs co-opting our wine and calling it their own, they're taking that most easy-drinking and accessible of wines—the one that doesn't taste awful, the one that you can choke down if necessary even if it's gone off, and at any rate it doesn't cost too much—the pinot grigio.

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It's not like these celebs are making fancy high-end blends of special grapes picked by blind nuns, concoctions that we could never afford and don't have to worry about. The experts agree. Per The Daily Beast:

 “It’s a very accessible wine,” says Tina Caputo, editor in chief of Vineyard and Winery Management magazine, a trade publication for the wine business. “For people who are not super wine geeks, it’s a really easy wine to like. You don’t have to know a lot about it. It’s not expensive.” It is not rocket science, in other words. It is the alcohol version of a wide-release romantic comedy premiering over a holiday weekend.

Does anyone else feel concerned? They're hitting us where it hurts!

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To give the everyday swill I drink after work on a Friday the name of Ramona Singer means that celebrities have encroached even further into my life than is desirable or even safe. It is a certain code of honor, a standard to which I hold myself, that the swill I drink be non-branded and nameless. How many of us will now be forced to consume something bearing the name "Ramona" or "Drew," and how many of us will feel, suddenly, how utterly average we are in comparison. Wine is supposed to make you feel big! This ruins everything, and all for a branding opportunity: “'What draws celebrities to the wine business is that wine is a great brand and an easy way to slap their name on something and sell it, a la perfume,' says Gary Vaynerchuk, co-owner of WineLibrary.com."

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Maybe Singer cares more about her wine than to use it simply as a branding opportunity, maybe not: It doesn't matter. The point is, in a world in which nearly everything is branded somehow by someone, is it too much to hope that the crap we drink could just be called something that doesn't immediately make us think of Hollywood or a real housewife? 

But maybe we are alone in this feeling. Dana, for one, appears to like this new trend, writing, "It also gives the mere day drinkers among us an opportunity to get closer to our favorite stars, a sparkly little transubstantiative experience of fame. Drink enough Ramona Singer pinot grigio—and lord knows I did yesterday—and you begin to feel ever so slightly bonded to the reality-show star, as if you have a tiny vicarious sense of her life."

I take a counter view: Leave my wine alone, Ramona Singer. I drink to have a tiny vicarious sense of my own life, not yours. 

Image via AP Photo/Evan Agostini

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