The Name Game of Wines


There’s been a revolution taking place in the wine business over the last decade or so, as the staid and dignified labels gathering dust in wine cellars have made way for bold new vintages and varietals with even bolder labels. When you walk through the Wine Department at Sprouts, you’ll see some truly wacky names and vibrant, artistic creations on the labels. We decided to take the bait and learn just how some of these names came to be.

Gnarly Head: Twisted Inspiration

Impressed by the tangled trunks and branches of the 35- to 80-year-old vines found in the old vineyards of Lodi, California, a winemaking team on a quest for great Zinfandel knew they were onto something great. Their search led them to a sea of free-standing, “head-trained” vines with twisted branches and a mayhem of leaves sprouting in all directions. An avid surfer among the group took one look at the vines and exclaimed, “Those are gnarly heads!” And so the name was born, a moniker that embodied bold fun. And that’s exactly what the Gnarly Head team believes—that wine should be fun, accessible and easy to understand and enjoy.

Rex Goliath: Ruling the Roost

Around the turn of the 20th century, at a circus in Texas, a 47-pound rooster left audiences aghast with its mammoth bulk. Folks came from near and far to gawk at the giant bird, suitably named HRH (His Royal Highness) Rex Goliath. A large hand-painted poster bearing his likeness hung proudly above his throne. Nearly 100 years later, the Rex Goliath line of wines was born, sporting a label replicating the vintage artwork from the circus banner that hung above Rex’s roost (the original artwork is displayed in the Rex Goliath headquarters in San Francisco). Rex Goliath wines are a tribute to their larger-than-life namesake, with big fruit flavors and a robust in-your-face personality.

Barrels of wines in a cellarPinot Evil: Wicked Ways

Underdog Wine Merchants are industry suppliers distributing wines to retail venues across the nation. They like to think of themselves as the “Champions of the underdogs of the wine world,” traveling the world looking for the more interesting and sometimes misunderstood or under-appreciated wines. Through their endeavors, they found the curiously named Pinot Evil. Pinot grapes are coveted, making Pinot wines an expensive variety. Well, the makers of Pinot Evil believe a good Pinot should never be “wicked on the wallet” and Pinot Evil is a guilty pleasure that everybody can afford. (Now we just need a sandwich company to come out with Hero Evil.)

Cupcake Vineyards: Sweet Sensations

Our friends at Underdog Wine merchants also bring the world Cupcake wines. Cupcake Vineyards strive to craft creamy and deliciously textured wines. Like a cupcake, crowned with a tower of sugary icing, these wines are that special treat designed to make you feel good. They offer a dozen Cupcake varietals, including Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz. They even have a Red Velvet wine, a sensationally sweet treat.

Fat Bastard: Insultingly Good

It started among friends, Thierry Boudinaud, a renowned French winemaker and his pal, Guy Anderson, an Englishman with a penchant for colorful expressions. Both men had collaborated on the creation of great wines before and looked at the opportunity as a way to catch up, enjoy each other’s company and of course, drink wine. Thierry had an experimental wine stashed in the back of the cellar and pulled it out. First they sniffed the vino, taking in the heady aroma, and then they sipped, rolling the vintage around in their mouths.

Thierry excitedly proclaimed, “Now that is what you call a fat bastard!” Guy also often used the expression to describe great things. Both men knew they could not withhold this from the wine-drinking public. When the time came to give the wine a name, there was only one that could truly do the Fat Bastard justice.

You can find several varieties of the wines above at most Sprouts locations, but please note that not all stores carry wine. Always remember to drink responsibly.

From a previous issue of Sprouts Farmers Market’s monthly e-newsletter. Hungry? Sign up now!