What's in a Label

There you are, standing in the wine section at the Co-Op, faced with an overwhelming array of choices: red or white; merlot, cabernet, or chardonnay; French or Australian… the list goes on and on. So many wine-selection guidelines, not enough time to spend in the store contemplating it all. Why not ride with your senses and go for the one that looks the most interesting? Who cares if they say you shouldn’t pick your wine by what the label looks like. The key is not only in the visuals but in the name as well.

For example, try Woop Woop, a fine bottle of Shiraz from southern Australia and a mere $10 at your local family grocery store, Heebs. Although the label—a photograph of a reflection in an abandoned lake silhouetted by a dead tree—might conjure morbid thoughts for some, the wine itself is divine. A well-balanced 2003 Shiraz, Woop Woop is a soft, elegant wine of rich flavors. Not to mention that after a few glasses it’s kind of fun to yell out, “Woop Woop!”

“Remember that old red truck your granddad had on the farm…” reads the back of the label on Red Truck, a California red table wine. As you might have imagined, there is an old red truck on the label with a farmer tossing hay out the back. Fitting for where we live, right? And just as fitting is the price: only nine bucks a bottle. Red Truck is a medley of Oakley Mourvedre with Sonoma County Syrah and a bit of Merlot and Petite Sirah, which gives this wine its red cherry, blueberry, and delicious chocolate flavors.

Papio, a 2003 Merlot or Cabernet whose eye-catching label features dancing monkeys playing musical instruments, is a hit for most dinner parties at $5.59. This wine’s motto is “It’s a jungle out there”—Papio is a sponsor of various African wildlife foundations that protect primates and their natural habitats. Check out their website www.papiowines.com.

Lastly, Peace has a cool label with little red, white, and blue bodies drawn together to form the peace sign—a nice bottle of Shiraz from eastern Australia. Among other virtues, Peace has a delightful body: broad in the mouth with cherry and blackberry flavors chased with plumy fruit aromas following in a warm finish.

It is an interesting technique, this way of choosing wine, but nine times out of ten you’ll be successful, if not amused. Heebs offers all of the aforementioned wines, but other venues you might check out are Montana Spirits & Wine, E. Main Liquor, the Co-Op, Blue Basket, and of course the Wine Gallery. Remember, sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.