Discard those images of snobby wine sophisticates who, like the wines they drink, are ripened with age. These days, wine makers are seeking out a new youthful market: Millennials and Gen Xers who want to break with tradition and drink wine much as they might craft beer.
That explains the three new wine brands coming to the U.S. from Diageo: Stark Raving, Butterfly Kiss, and Rose'N'Blum. Each of the three brands has its own quirky positioning with the young drinker clearly in mind.
"We realize the younger wine drinkers are far less influenced by wine traditions and 'rules,' " says Greg Kryder, president of Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines.
"We have a large population of wine buyers that turned 21 after the Millennium, they grew up with wine as part of their families' lifestyle, and they are fearless in their selections. ... We aim to create wines that fire that enthusiasm and satisfy that curiosity."
Stark Raving is perhaps the edgiest of the three new brands, inspired by the idea of "going rogue," according to Diageo. The company says the line is based on the "belief that experimentation, unusual blends and sourcing, and a little touch of madness can lead to crazy good wines."
Stark Raving Red combines Tannat, Zinfandel, and other red varietals in a blend, while Stark Raving White blends together Chardonnay and Moscato. The wine's labels target men young enough to remember their college days, conveying "a sense of time-hopping irreverence toward history and culture," says Diageo.
Butterfly Kiss should appeal out to the young female wine drinker, with offerings that include a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Pink Pinot Grigio and, eventually, a Moscato. The wines are "bright, delicate and aromatic," offering "light and luscious flavors of stone fruit, berry and citrus, with just a kiss of sweetness." Each bottle's label is printed with an iridescent holographic image of a butterfly in flight. Diageo says it is a first in the wine industry.
Rose'N'Blum, a play on Rosenblum Cellars, was inspired by winemaker John Kane's wife. Kane tends to make "big bold Zinfandels," and he wanted to create a "lighter, whiter and sweeter" version to have a more feminine appeal. The Pinot Grigio "offers flavors of sweet peach and pear, and aromas of citrus sorbet," while the Pink Moscato has "appealing notes of apricot and a fragrant jasmine bouquet."
For the Rose'N'Blum labels, Diageo has appropriated a concept made popular by Coors beer and applied it to wine: As the bottle chills, the image of a rose appears to "bloom," becoming more defined and colorful, indicating when the bottle is chilled to serve.
In recent years, wine makers have pushed the envelope in bringing new brands and varieties to the market in an effort to broaden the appeal of wine. With the introduction of Stark Raving, Butterfly Kiss, and Rose'N'Blum, as well as the Marc Mondavi brand, The Divining Rod, wine makers are entering an era of brand differentiation, paying a lot of attention to brand name, brand positioning, and target audience. They've come a long way from "red, white, or rose."
More on Stark Raving founder John Kane below: