Brandy Marketing, Mnemonics and Wine Fiction – Questions for the Readers | Catavino
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Brandy Marketing, Mnemonics and Wine Fiction – Questions for the Readers

Torres Brandy Spritz

Sometimes I don’t have the answers. Ask Gabriella, and she’ll deny this, replying that I always have one even if it’s wrong, and most likely, she’s probably right, but that’s between you and me. Today, I have 3 questions for our lovely and loyal readers. Please help me out so that I don’t have to pretend like I don’t know something! 🙂

#1 About a year ago, we were traveling through the Priorat looking for information on a wine called Salmos. Having stopped by the Torres wine shop, we first stumbled across these “spritz” vials, located in the picture to the right, that allow you to add a squirt of brandy, both ten and five year versions, or a Moscatel to a beverage, dessert, etc. Yesterday, I came across this vial a second time, but now in conjunction with a bottle of Torres 10 year brandy. Now I personally love a bit of brandy in my coffee, or a snifter or two at night before bed, but in the end, I can’t see why I would need to “spritz” it on. The packaging is sexy, well-designed, and the idea is interesting, but is the product of the spritzer the end goal or the sale of more brandy? Thoughts? Not really a question that needs an answer, but I’m a bit puzzled as to what to do with my new spray bottle of brandy!

#2 Wine Mnemonics – I listen to NPR podcasts religously, and I came acros this story the other day on Mnemonics. The story got me thinking, what are the best Wine Mnemonics? I quickly did a search over at everyone’s favorite wine search engine AbleGrape, and promptly found very little. So I tried “google” again, but came up empty-handed. So all you MW’s out there, or WSET students, any good Mnemonics for remembering your favorite wine facts? Post your answers or favorites in the comments below!

#3 Wine Fiction – Lately, I’ve been enjoying reading more than usual. Lot’s of books about building Cathedrals and some fun mindless fiction to take my mind off work at the end of the day. The problem is, I have a stack of wine books to read, and well, while interesting (Wine Politics
is one I’m looking forward too from Dr.Vino), I want to find some wine fiction! Do you know of any great fiction that is wine themed? Dr Debs is doing great getting us to all read more about wine, but her book club selections tend to be non-fiction (correct me if I’m wrong). I want to find/hope to find some historical fiction that takes place in the vineyards, or a tale of two lovers amoung the vines, who knows! Anything to let me live in my world of wine, a place I love, but also allow me a touch of escapism. Anybody have a suggestion? I found a mystery novel about 5 yrs ago about a murder amoung the vines, I wish I could remember the name, but since then nothing of great interest. Help me out!

Ok, that’s enough for now…Thanks in advance for the help


Ryan Opaz

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  • I think the brandy spritz is to try and get people to see the brandy in a new light/use it more widely than just as late night/end of meal tipple. Don't know any wine fiction, but do recommend reading 'Drilling for Wine' the tale of how Robin Yapp got started in the wine trade. Very interesting and very funny. At that time no one else had dared to think of just importing Rhone and Loire wines, or anything other than Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Port. A pioneer of the specialist indie merchant.

  • Ryan, I was given one of those “spritzers” they're calling atomizers a couple of years ago because a friend, who knows I love martinis, thought I could spritz the vermouth into the glass and then add the chilled gin. It's all very silly. Just add a splash of vermouth, swirl it around the glass, dump out what's left (if you like it dry, like me). It's just another useless gadget meant to lure IMHO. As for wine-based fiction, obviously there's “A Good Year” which the movie was based on, but there are also others like: Varietal Tendencies, Blackberry Wine (by Joanne Harris who wrote Chocolat), Carson Valley, and The Vintner's Luck. Hope that helps! I've got a “to read” stack as well!!Only mnemonic I can think of that I used for Loire whites when I started drinking them years ago was that I always confused which were with sauvignon blanc and which were with chenin blanc. Savennieres makes you think “sauvignon” because of the “SAV” whereas Sancerre wouldn't, but actually the opposite it true. I know it sounds confusing, but when I saw Savennieres and every instinct in me said “sauvignon blanc” I knew it wasn't!

  • I like to spritz a little bit on my neck and wrists before heading out on the town, you never know when you might meet that special lady who finds the allure of Brandy just too irresistible!! As for mnemonics, I sometimes have trouble with French wines, especially in regards to differentiating Burgundy and Bordeaux classe. I use this little trick, in BurGUNDY, GRAND Cru is the highest classe, where in Bordeaux it will be Premier Cru. I think stressing the “GUNDY” in Burgundy helps me remember “GRAND” cru a bit more. Not sure i that classifies as mnemonics, but it helps me! I haven't read these fiction books, but I was able to find a few…..The Chardonnay Charade: A Wine Country Mystery and Plum Wine: A Novel. I have however read Wine & War, which I highly recommend for any history and/or WWII geek like myself, a great account of the French winemakers during the Nazi occupation of France. It gets a bit “thin” at times, but a fantastic book nonetheless!

  • Tom Perry

    Hi Ryan,I think the brandy spray is a marketing tool used by Torres to attempt to create a new occasion to sample brandy, a category that is extremely unfashionable at the moment. In general, with the exception of dark rum, brown spirits are currently “out”. There are exceptions: Mexico is one, where Domecq's (Mexican) brandy business sustained their Jerez operations for years. Torres themselves bought a distributor in Mexico (La Negrita) to maximize their exposure to the market (I know, they were my Rioja distributor and I got thrown out!)About wine fiction: The only book I've ever seen is in German: “Rioja für den Matador” written by Paul Grote, one of a series of detective stories set in wine regions-the others are in Bordeaux and Tuscany. You can find them at the Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag (

  • Hi Ryan, I'll just answer to the fiction wine question, since I don't have a clear answer for the other two questions. i had recently read La Bodega, from Noah Gordon. It's about a Catalan winegrower. It's a nice romance, I really enjoyed it. I can bring it to you in a couple of weeks.

  • Hi Ryan,as far as I read it was intented to use on that traditional coffes known as 'carajillo'. You know, a normal coffee with a shot of brandy.Recently my father bought a bottle of this brandy and as he doesn't know what to do with this item he gave to me. I'll use to spray on meat when a flambé is required. I'm thinking in veal tail stewed for instance…Regards,José-Luis Giménez

  • Just for clarification. Is that a vial, or does it actually spray mist?Also, for wine fiction, there's a highly popular manga (Japanese style comic) Kami no Shizuku or “Drops of God.” Here's the wiki description:

  • Wine fiction: The Vintner's Luck – Elisabeth Knox (Burgundy in the 19th century); Through a glass darkly, Roald Dahl ; The Cup and the Sword – Alice Tisdale Hobart (California during Prohibition. A classic I haven't got hold of yet); Sideways, Rex Pickett; La Bodega – Noah Gordon (only in Spanish and Catalan, as far as I could find; if anyone knows of an English edition, please let me know).Then there is a Canadian wine writer, Toni Aspler, who combines wine and detectives; in Germany you have Carsten Sebastian Henn who does the same. How good is your German, Ryan ;-)?I have been keeping track of winefiction myself. I hope to hear some tips I didn't know!

  • Dylan it is a spray and like most everyone else said it's for coffee fruits, dessserts, and other places where just a dab will do ya! :)As for all the book recommendations, thanks a ton! Love all the ideas, and now I need to see how many I can find. My Spanish/Catalan is not quite there for reading a whole novel, but I guess there is no time like the present to learn. As for my german, well, I might need to pass on that!thanks again for the suggestions, and maybe we'll try to review a few of them here! cheers,

  • Andrea Smith

    Hey Ryan! 1st Question: I agree with Andrew Chapman, probably trying to get people to see brandy in a new light and drink it on other occasions, the same goes for the new Croft Pink along with the sexy slender bottle they sell it in, still need to try that……:p 2nd Question: When I was a Wines Tutor up at CIA, I had some students come up with mnemonics for themselves to remember AVA's, French varietals and grand crus; at the time they seemed ridiculous to me and would have confused me more for remembering things but it helped them! Then I realized I had come up up with a few myself, for the Loire confusion acually, I always said SAncerre is to SAuvignon Blanc because if pronounced correctly, they both start with the same “Sa” sound and SavENierres to ChenIN Blanc because the second syllable ended with an “n' sound. I also had one to remember that ChiNON with it's ending of “No” in French reminded me that Chinon was “no” to Chenin Blanc or a white varietal being the main grape used. Haha I don't know if that makes sense to you or anyone but I think that's how mnemonics work, they only really seem to make sense to the person who came up with them! What do you think? 3rd Question: Haven't read any wine specific fiction but since you were a chef, you might like one I read a few years back called “The Butter Did It: A Gastronomic Tale of Love and Murder” by Phyllis Richman, whom you may know as the acclaimed food writer/critic from the Washingtonian, as this book also takes place in my hometown of Wash. DC and I thoroughly enjoyed it. She has 2 other food-themed mysteries called “Murder on the Gravy Train” and “Who's Afraid of Virginia Ham?” which I haven't read yet but also got decent reviews. Enjoy!

  • Wine fiction falls into many subcategories: mysteries, general fiction, historical fiction, poetry, plays, romance, to name some. I have a database currently with 335 wine fiction listings. I'm wondering what to do with this information. I wonder if you and your readers think there's some use for this data.

  • Mariella: See my comment submitted later than yours. I would love to know more about your “list” of wine fiction. I've been trying to keep a database of such for a couple of years now. Few people seem to be interested in this subject. Thanks!Warren R. Johnson