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Wines of Australia and Those Pesky Critters

Critter labels: Are they an excellent marketing tool, or are wineries shooting themselves in the foot?

Critter wines have become very popular in the United States. Americans love their animals, and the critters make labels easily recognizable. The fruity, sweet wines seem to satisfy many American palates as well; everyone knows or should know that even great marketing can’t sell something people don’t already want. The question is then, are the critter wines what Australia wants to be known for? If so, then they seem to be doing an excellent job.

However there is a stigma attaching itself to critter label wines. Critter wines are being called ‘low quality’ by some of the more serious wine drinkers. In effect, all Australian wines are being associated with low quality. Is this the correct assumption to make? Put simply the answer is or should be “No.” Not all wines produced in Australia are like the fruity, sweet wines with critter labels. Australia has more diverse wines than many people give them credit for. They do produce many fruity blends, but their entire wine industry is so much more than that. The problem is that most people don’t know or if they do don’t think of these other wines as Australian wines because they don’t have the critters on the label that so many people today are recognizing as Australian wines. How many people that haven’t taken or learned about wine actually know how to read all of the different labels? Personally, I don’t agree with the opinion that critter wines are no good. My first bottle of wine that I bought for myself was a Yellow Tail Merlot. If there is a large enough customer base, then why not produce what the people want? The challenge is in deciding whether to select a niche market or to try and market to the masses. Who is Australia’s customer? This is something the wine makers must decide, and for most of them it appears that they have chosen to go with the less knowledgeable or “virgin” wine drinkers as their target market and are making a wine that they can enjoy.

Australia is constantly on the forefront of what is new and trendy. We can always look to them to see what others may be doing next. Do they tend to over-do it just a bit, though? As with the critter labels, once Yellow Tail (commonly attributed with starting this critter craze) became well-known we began seeing critters on wine bottles everywhere. Many of these critter wines were Australian. Why? Wineries saw that Yellow Tail sold well and tried to get a piece of the metaphorical pie. The market became flooded with critters. With the good and the bad wines coming out of Australia all, or at least most of them have critters on the labels, and how is the common person going to know the difference from a good or bad critter labeled wine?

However it looks like for better or worse the critter labels are waning. Many seem to think they have run their course. I tend to agree that the nostalgia seems to have worn off. I would say the fad was one that left its mark on the market, though. It left behind cheap, easy to drink wines people can enjoy. Will the critters ever fully disappear? I don’t think so, becasue I doubt popular critter wines like Yellow Tail are going to go anywhere. They may begin to branch out, though. Yellow Tail, the most popular critter wine, has created a more ‘sophisticated’ looking label for some of their wines. Both their ‘Reserve’ line and their sparkling wines have a smaller, black and white version of their well known label. The colorful labels and fun marketing approach still exist, but they seem to have realized that colorful labels do not get taken seriously. And yet, they are still Yellow Tail. For them, the critter is in the brand, not just in the labeling.


Hollister, Julia. “Critter Labels Bite into Wine Market – San Francisco Wine | Examiner.com.” Welcome to Examiner.com | Examiner.com. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.examiner.com/wine-in-san-francisco/critter-labels-bite-into-wine-market&gt;.

“Is Yellow Tail a “gateway” Wine?” Dr Vino’s Wine Blog. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.drvino.com/2008/09/25/is-yellow-tail-a-gateway-wine/&gt;.

Love, By: TONY. “Why South Australian Wines Must Shake the ‘critter Tag’ | News.com.au.” News.com.au | News Online from Australia and the World | NewsComAu. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.news.com.au/why-south-australian-wines-must-shake-the-critter-tag/story-e6frea83-1225925646798&gt;.

“Wine Business Monthly.” Wine Business. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getArticle&gt;.

[yellow Tail] Shiraz | Cabernet | Chardonnay | Australian Wine. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. <http://www.discoveryellowtail.com/&gt;.


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