Judging by its cover: Wine bottles with animals

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From the April 4, 2013 edition

There’s a reason cute animal videos are among the most shared things on the internet. When it comes to wine bottles, does the same hold true?

Faced with otherwise bright and trendy or stoic and traditional bottle labels, it might be hard not to gravitate toward one with a cute, entertaining or otherwise eye-catching mascot. And is that such a bad thing?

First, an informal survey: Labels decorated with animals are quite common. Among the classic winemakers, maybe not so much (the French and Italian sections were pretty much creature-free). But along the American options, the labels ran the gamut: Ducks. Cranes. Swans. Leaping frogs. Jumping kangaroos. Proud roosters. Cowboy horses. Wild horses. Really, just a lot of horses.

And then I saw the butterfly bottles. The use of an insect made them interesting, but the springy logo was what especially drew me in. The label – Butterfly Kiss – is available in three varietals (chardonnay, pinot grigio and pink pinot grigio), all of which were marked down to about half their original price ($16 at Brewer’s Yard Kroger).

The 2011 pinot grigio, my pick, was from Sonoma and was advertised as full of pear, lemon sorbet and citrus flavors, and I have to agree with that description. Pinot grigios are typically light- to medium-bodied and pear-, apple- and lemon-forward, and this one definitely swung toward the citrus side of things. The sweetness of the pear was in there as well, though, and it was light and crisp on the tongue. It would be great enjoyed with a cheese-and-crackers course or a fish or shrimp dinner.

As far as wines go, then, I enjoyed it. But the larger lesson seems to be that bottles with animals on the labels are worth the gamble … and a butterfly might just be the one to try this spring.