24 February 2012

Cupcake Wines

I have tried a few Cupcake wines in the past. I was reminded of the brand recently when my mother was getting ready to host a big baby shower for my cousin. She asked my advice for wines to get for the occasion, and I wasn't terribly helpful--I spend so little time in retail shops in town that I can't really recommend something specific that's here in town. Usually I direct someone to a trusted shop in their neighborhood and put them in the hands of our city's best retailers.

Mom said, "Have you heard of Cupcake wines? I've heard they're good for parties." I think this might be the first time that Mom had asked me about a specific wine label, and I pointed out that it's not just a single location, but rather a brand that gets wine from all over the globe and labels it. Nothing wrong with that, and there are many companies doing the same thing. But from anecdotal evidence I've heard that the Cupcake wines are popular at baby showers, bridal showers, and other such hen parties. And I say that not to condemn the wines from a male perspective--each bottle must be judged on its own merits. But I'm always a fan of making wine less intimidating and easier to pronounce for the average American consumer. You don't need to be able to read the Greek alphabet or have a working knowledge of German to ask for these wines. And if we want a robust American wine market, we need brands like this.

NV Cupcake Prosecco
Prosecco D.O.C., Italy
100% Glera (Prosecco)
$14, 11.2% abv.

Crisp and refreshing with big bubbles and a splash of lemony acidity. Not the most complex Prosecco I've ever had, but it's a serviceable midday sparkling wine for casual lunches. I served it with sweet potato soup that I made for Julia, one of her favorites.

2009 Cupcake Red Velvet
47% Zinfandel, 29% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Sirah
$14, 13.5% abv.

A very interesting yet distinctively Californian blend. I love creative red mixes but this one goes in the sweeter direction. Great berry flavors and low tannins, and better cold than at room temperature. For me, I'd serve this as a dessert wine (it's really not that sweet, just my preference for drier wines). But if you're just dipping your toe in the red wine pool, this might be a good non-threatening way to start. Served with thin pork chops and roasted peppers, a rerun of this memorable meal.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


The Wine Commonsewer said...

Cupcake wines are quite the rage, aren't they?

I tried a Cupcake Merlot last week and found it just OK. In the price range it falls into, there are other, better wines, so I'll probably not buy it again.

Benito said...


It's a great and lucrative marketing strategy, and I don't say that ironically. Wine novices, or those that don't fill up the recycling bin with green glass every week need a brand that they know and trust and doesn't require the knowledge of odd grapes or foreign languages.

I can walk into a wine shop, do the secret handshake and hug with one of my friends/retailers, and say, "You've got something awesome for $15 and I'll love it. Show me that bottle, and I'll stock up on gin and vodka while I'm here." They'll show me something that was the result of a backroom deal with a distributor and involved a divorce between a French winemaker and a Spanish heiress, and that wine will be amazing and have a great story, and I'll never be able to get it again. And I'll write about it and love it and talk about it even when my grandchildren are sick of the story.

You're not going to get that experience with Cupcake, but if you don't spend the majority of your time thinking about wine and you're looking for internal consistency, easy availability, and a ten minute visit to the wine shop, you're going to need to focus on certain bigger brands.