The question is not whether the presence and endorsement of a product or service by a well-known celebrity carries impact, its more about honesty and sales impact. Why do we consumers fall so often for their “pitches” and respond like "Stepford Wives" to what they are asking us to do?

Do we really believe that a retired prize fighter has insight into the proper design, construction and operation of a grill, or even if that same celebrity knows about patent and trademark laws as those apply to inventions? George Foreman has made millions of dollars from both projects.  

Would Peyton Manning steer us wrong about home-delivered pizza? Would Drew Brees kid us about cold-meat sandwiches? Of course not. And there are many more examples of actors, singers, athletes, or any number of people who have enjoyed their allotted minutes of fame, all the while trying to extend those career golden moments. 

Many years ago the legendary Orson Welles accepted an assignment from a wine company that wanted to be known for style and quality, neither of which fit its product, and Welles birthed the now-legendary tag-line, “We will serve no wine before its time.” I suppose the winery was satisfied with Welles’ delivery of the message and his larger-than-life presence on the television screen. The promise of a product ready to be enjoyed, wrapped in a “trust us” environment, went on for years.

As a side note, while this aspect was never known at the time, Welles just could not deliver the script in efficient fashion and many "takes" of the material in front of the camera ensued. Those “Cut! Let’s do it again” moments resulted in Welles having a bit too much of the sponsor’s product. Take a look here.

Respecting the celebrity to the point where we believe and are willing to take action is a complicated dance. Lately, many celebrities have even become involved in the manufacturing process. When it comes to wine and spirits there is much to consider about credibility, quality, and even if the whole mish-mash makes sense.

And when it comes to “celebrity”  we need to access different authorities from those usual resources we consult about “is the product good?” My choice of celebrity knowledge is E! (E! Entertainment Television, LLC). If E! does not know, fold up the tents and let’s move on. Here is what E! had to say about some wines that are attached for various reasons to celebrities.  

 

Gia Coppola’s Gia Pinot Noir 

E! says: Light pomegranate; too fruity; tastes like the brown water the kids in the "Goonies" were given; too sweet; god awful.

Tim says: The package alone tells you that this is neither serious nor to be taken seriously.

 

Gia Coppola’s Gia Pinot Grigio

E! says: Give me as straw; I could drink this all day; better than the Pinot Noir but still not great; Unoffensive.

Tim says: Why would anyone fool around with these wines when there are so many good ones, sort of?

 

Drew Barrymore’s Pinot Grigio 

E! says: Pungent aftertaste, and not in a good way; One of my favorites; I would actually drink this wine; By far the best of the bunch.

Tim says: Passable but not varietally correct. As a Pinot Gris, it’s a pretty good Chardonnay.

 

Lisa Vinderpump’s SVP Pink Sangria

E! says: Grapefruit Cough Syrup; Too sweet and fruity; Tastes like cough syrup; Pink, floral and in your face, like its namesake;

Tim says: I will not be tasting this wine, not even in the name of valuable research.

 

Lisa Vanderump’s Red Sangria

E! says: Just say no; c’mon, Lisa, you can do better than this; grape juice in a fancy princess bottle; this would make a great candle; sorority in a bottle.

Tim says: One more time: tell me again why are we doing this story?

 

Dave Mathews Dreaming Tree Red

E! says: I did not want to like this wine, but I do. Damn you, Dave Mathews; Delicious. Who knew? I love this red and I don’t really like red wines; Full-bodied, relaxed vibe; Laying on the grass on Haight Street

Tim says: A serious wine from a serious musician. Dave takes the winemaking personally.

 

Train’s Drops of Jupiter California Red

E! says: Points off because they are a crappy band, but they make a pretty good wine; Might have been too shocked to learn that Train actually made one to taste this good. But I liked it.

Tim says: These guys have a big hand in the winemaking and they know what they are doing.

 

Train’s Calling All Angels Chardonnay

E! says: Tastes like church wine; bland and stomach turning all at the same time

Tim says: Perfect for a movie. Plenty of butter to accompany your popcorn.

 

Patti Stanger’s Match Chardonnay

E! says: Watery. Pass on doing the taste, if offered; fine but forgettable; could have gone my whole life without drinking one single drop.

Tim says: Move on, people, nothing to see here.

 

Patti Stanger’s Match Sweet Red Rosso

E! says: Patti’s vineyards need to be torched; better than her white but that’s not saying much; not bad for an ambiguous, generic red wine

Tim says: Are we still looking at these styles of wines?

 

There are some wines made by or closely associated with celebrities. And when they are good, they are pretty good.

 

Francis Ford Coppola – Dozens of wines, including Director’s Cut and Niebaum-Coppola.

Sting – Il Palagio, full-on Italian Tuscan Red.

Gerard Depardieu – Chateau de Tigne

Mike Ditka – Mike Ditka Wines

Fess Parker – Fess Parker Wines

Dan Aykroyd – partnered with DeLoach Vineyards

Greg Norman – Greg Norman Wine

Ernie Els – Ernie Els Wine

Dave Mathews – We earlier referred to Dave’s West Coast wine, but he also makes an East Coast wine, Blenheim Vineyards.

Jeff Gordon – Jeff Gordon Wines

Lorraine Bracco – the "Soprano’s" star, the wine is named Bracco. Got a problem with that?

 

Keep in mind that a lot of celebrities just lease their name to a product and are really not involved in design, manufacturing or quality control. It’s not right, but, hey, they make those decisions and we are not involved except to whip out the wallet.

 

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Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored, at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life," hosted by Tim every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcast episodes are available for viewing at http://www.wlae.com/appetite-for-life/.