Wine Wreck

Will wine go the way of an unnamed car model and rebrand itself big and tough?
Morris Gleitzman

I love you wine. I love you very much. So please hear this cry from my heart. And my middle palate. Please, please don’t become one of those products that try too hard. Much too hard. So hard they achieve reverse brand alchemy, mysteriously transmuting their most precious features into lead.

Two examples, dear wine. They’re both a bit upsetting, so if you can, read this lying down in a cool cellar.

Exhibit A. The world’s most popular and admired ute. A byword for toughness and reliability. The James Halliday of the ute world, but needing less litres per 100 kilometres. Legal caution forbids me to use its actual name, so let’s just call it the T*yota H*lux.

For decades it was the lean, indestructable star of countless Marlboro cigarette commercials and Taliban raids. Then T*yota decided to go for big sales in the US outdoor recreational market. A demographic that doesn’t smoke and is far too busy causing soil erosion in national parks to mount raids on military installations. But, T*yota hoped, yearning for a vehicle that screamed, I could do both if I wanted to.

T*yota took the H*lux’s toughness and bloated it. Supersized it for no practical purpose. Made it a road hog. From a Clint Eastwood to a Clive Palmer. I leave you to consider which of those two men is most often mentioned in the same sentence as ‘car wreck’.

Exhibit B. Again anonymity is appropriate, so let’s just call it the mobile phone iUse. For years this was the phone that put smart into smart phone. But its maker didn’t know when to stop. And now this phone is too smart for its own good. So frustrating, it puts the s&m into smart phone.

One example of many. The on/off switch was moved and it’s now directly opposite the function switches on the other side, which results in a welter of unintended screenshots and selfies. Leaving us with a tautological conundrum. If we don’t mean to take it, is it still a selfie? I suggest, *pple, you might need to fire a few designers and get some philosophers in.

Mercifully, dear wine, you have succumbed only rarely to the Too * For Your Own Good Syndrome. But it has happened. For years I thought super Tuscans were just reds that were so long-lived they made good investments for retirement. Then I tasted one and realised the truth. They’re mostly just reds that are too Tuscan for their own good.

Dearest wine, try harder by all means, but not too hard. Please don’t end up too fruity, too minerally, too complex, too refreshingly unassuming, too cheeky, too back-labelled or too iconic for your own good.

In an attempt to claw back the reputation of the H*lux, the TV show Top Gear once threw one over a cliff to show how iconically tough and special it was. Oh wine, darling wine, I don’t want them to do anything like that to you, not ever.