Michelle Obama to launch wine line!
Not really, but it caught your eye, didn’t it? And what’s more, you weren’t really surprised, were you? It would be just another case of a celebrity wine brand.
What does it say about our culture when everyone from the National Rifle Association to Bob Dylan wants to have or sponsor a wine brand?
You can read about the Dylan wine here and the National Rifle Association Wine Club here. Throw in P!nk’s new rosé, the California National Association of Women’s Feminist Wine Club, and the rapper Lil’ Jon’s wine, which I blogged about in June, and you have just about the entire bandwidth of America’s political and cultural spectrum. I could, of course, mention numerous star athletes, movie moguls and even dead celebrities (Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Garcia), whose names and images grace wine brands. Nor is this an entirely new trend: the 19th century famous opera singer, Lily Langtry, launched what might have been the world’s first celebrity wine when she purchased her Lake County property in 1888.
Who’s next? A sprightly little sparkling wine from Mr. Personality himself, Osama bin Laden? Something sweet from Sarah Palin? At this rate, everybody in the world will have his own wine brand, eventually.
It’s easy to mockumentarize the celebrity wine thing, but the truth is, I like it. It’s a testimony to how far we’ve come in this country in so short an amount of time. You don’t have to go very far back to an era when nobody drank wine, except Skid Row bums, first-generation European immigrants and a few rich people in the cities. When I was a kid, we saw wine exactly twice a year — on Passover and Hanukah — and it was Manischewitz.
Wine has become an integral part of the culture, in the same way as the computer. Doesn’t matter who you are — a nazi, a terrorist, a nun, a Buddhist, a secretary, a rock singer, a bricklayer, the President of the United States. We all use the computer; we all like wine. The phenomenon is that wine has become so central to our way of life, so normal, that famous, wealthy people and organizations — who presumably have professional advisors who tell them how to invest their money and manage their images — are hopping on the wine train, hoping, no doubt, to make a little extra cash, but thinking, also, that having their names associated with wine is a lot better than having it associated with dogfood.
Boomers: you did good. You lifted wine out of the gutter into which it had fallen and resurrected it. Millennials: thank us, take the torch, and keep running.