The Hippo


Oct 16, 2019








What’s in a name?
More importantly, what’s in the wine?

By Stefanie Phillips

 It’s been two years since a wine label shook up the Granite State. The wine, If You See Kay, had many people upset because its name sounds like a profanity when said out loud. Thankfully, it stayed on the shelves — it’s not only a conversation piece but a decent red blend too. 

At the time when this wine was causing controversy, I took an informal poll of my Facebook friends, asking them if they were offended by the name of this wine, or by others like Fat Bastard, El Bastardo and Bitch. I received 26 comments from friends, none of whom said they were offended, but many called the name “clever” and “good marketing.” The majority of the respondents ranged in age from 25 to 32, a younger generation of wine drinkers if you will, but they aren’t the only ones not offended by this wine. 
If You See Kay winemaker Jayson Woodbridge had marketing success (you might even call it genius) amidst the controversy, as the wine flew off the shelves. At the time, I had a hard time finding it at my local store because it was so popular.
I found my friends’ comments amusing. 
Here is a small selection: 
“Most people wouldn’t even make the connection … unless they had a dirty mind or said it fast enough, out loud. I think there are far worse names for beers out there than that.” — Chris
“Really, what is most offensive, when you get down to it, is bad booze. If it’s well-crafted and tastes good, then I don’t really give an If You See Kay.” — Jeremy
“It’s an adult beverage, and only adults should be shopping for it anyway. I have kids and it doesn’t bother me.” — Lindsay
Should you judge a wine by its label? And did the wine live up to all the hype? 
To preface, this wine is a 2010 Italian red wine that was released in the spring of 2012. According to the wine’s website, “Kay is a creature; she is an embodiment of a lifestyle, a genre, a feeling in your gut. Kay is a force of nature, a wanderer. She represents the philosophy of ‘Wide Open Throttle or don’t bother doing it at all.’ She’s not trying to be, she just is. Always uncontrollable, She’s wanted.” This is apparently the way Woodbridge approaches winemaking: “risk everything, all in at all times.”
This wine is a blend of cabernet, petite verdot and primitivo from the Lazio region, south of Rome. On the nose, this wine has notes of dark cherries and tobacco and is slightly smoky.  On the palate it is creamy with a slightly dry finish. 
I have to say, though cabernet is not one of my favorite grapes, I really enjoyed this racy blend and would purchase it again. Ideal pairings would be Italian pasta dishes or a hearty steak. As a bonus, the wine label is very cool and this bottle could become a collector’s item after it is empty. 
This is not the first controversially named wine to hit the shelves of New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets, as frequent walks around the stores reveal. I have found other wines like Bitch 2009 Aragon Grenache, Fat Bastard (several varietals), Oh Schist! Riesling, El Bastardo and El Bastarda. 
Back when I first tried Kay, I also purchased a bottle of Fat Bastard 2010 Merlot and the Bitch wine too (all for research and development purposes). The cashier had laughed at my purchases, repeating the name of each wine as he scanned it. I let him know this interesting trio of bottles was for a wine column. 
Last year in Europe, an Italian wine company angered the public and human rights organizations when it produced wine labels with images of Hitler and Nazi slogans. The company claimed the labels were a joke, according to an article in the U.K.-based newspaper The Telegraph. It said they were part of a historical series, inspiring collectors to hang on to the bottles. 
No wine labels since Kay have caused controversy here in New Hampshire, but with new wines being made all the time, you never know what could appear on the shelves next.
As seen in the July 31, 2014 issue of the Hippo. 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu