Getting Closure

Hogue Cellars, a Washington-based wine producer, recently announced the results of a four-year study on bottle closures. What’s interesting about the study is that the results suggest fruit quality and wine freshness are preserved by using screw-caps rather than natural or synthetic corks. How did they determine the closures were more effective? According to reports, every six months during a 30-month period, a panel of Hogue winemakers and trade professionals tasted and analyzed a 1999 Hogue Genesis Merlot and a 2000 Hogue Fruit Forward Chardonnay with a variety of closures. At the study’s conclusion in December, the company found natural corks showed levels of cork taint. The screw-caps showed none, while maintaining fruit and freshness.
Hogue is so sure about the findings it debuted at this summer’s 55th annual American Society of Enology and Viticulture Conference (ASEV) in San Diego that it announced its complete line of 2004 Fruit Forward wines will be available beginning in January in screw-caps with liners. Fruit Forward wines represent 70 percent of the company's wine production, according to reports.
What I find most interesting about this study is that it was done strictly with quality in mind — and not the acceptance of consumers. If you consider the focus of most wineries during the recent past has been on appealing to consumers with a penchant for traditional cork closures, this clearly goes against the grain. And, although I have yet to read reports of industry response to the announcement made by Hogue Cellars to the ASEV, I can only assume that the results will affect the direction the organization takes to develop "marketing synergism" and "connect sensory science [of wine] directly to the consumer," which were the goals of the recent conference. Could this change consumer and industry perceptions of cork? Is it possible that screw-caps will be the wave of the future?
Mobile monster ads
Hansen Beverage Co. rode the advertising rails as the Las Vegas Monorail opened to the public earlier this month. The company is promoting its Monster Energy drink in Vegas-style by sponsoring one of the monorail trains. The Monster Energy Train is emblazoned with spectacular imagery inside and out, providing what rail system promoters have dubbed ‘brand theater’. Hansen also signed on to place futuristic-looking vending machines at each of the monorail stations.
Pop questions
In preparation for its third annual Perfect Proposal Contest, Korbel Champagne Cellars conducted a Proposal Survey to find out Americans’ opinions on the role of romance, tradition and etiquette. Apparently romance still reigns — more men than women agree that it’s important to follow tradition when proposing marriage. Eight of 10 adult Americans agree it’s more important to have a romantic proposal than an elaborate one. And 65 percent of Americans agree the element of surprise is important when proposing marriage.
Who knew?
And you thought water was just for hydration… In its first-ever national marketing campaign, Glaceau Vitaminwater decided to grab a bit of attention by telling consumers the other benefits of drinking all-natural, low-calorie, vitamin-packed water. Those other benefits include enabling the visually challenged to focus better at strip clubs, giving sorority girls energy to win pillow fights against their sisters and providing people with the endurance to perform like an animal in bed. (The animal chosen for the last example is a goat… BI will say no more.)
Sooooo low
“Limbo” — a 15-second television spot — supported this month’s launch of Minute Maid’s Premium Light line. The idea of the spot is to show how low the product is in calories and sugar. Premium Light is half the calories and sugar of regular orange juice. Each 8-ounce serving contains 10 grams of sugar and has 50 calories.
Buzz biz
The virtual office just got easier, and more tasty, as Starbucks Coffee Co. added high-speed Internet service to stores in five more states – Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico and Wisconsin. More than 3,100 Starbucks now offer Internet access nationwide. Starbucks teamed up with T-Mobile to offer Wi-Fi connections at its stores.
Times are a changin’
The Coca-Cola Co. replaced the world’s largest Coke bottle in New York City’s Times Square with a three-dimensional high-tech display. The new whiz-bang advertising sculpture measures more than six stories high and is considered the world’s first digital communications portal, featuring 32 custom-made convex and concave, high-definition LED screens. Visitors to the square will be entertained with digital imagery from the Coke Classic, Diet Coke and C2 brands.