"Despite a pleasant cherry-berry scent, the wine honestly didn't taste like much."
They might as well rename it "Hello, Creepy," because that's exactly how you'll feel purchasing Hello Kitty wine, from the moment you ask the sales clerk where to find it, right through to the cash register ring-up, where they will encircle the neck of your bottle with a pendant suitable for a six-year-old. Nothing makes you feel like a pedophile faster than buying a bottle of Hello Kitty Wine.
But seriously, how's the wine itself? I had hoped to review one of the still wines from the all-Italian lineup of Hello Kitty wines—both red and white Pinot Nero wines ("Devil" and "Angel") were on my list, but aren't yet available in the New York area. However, the Brut Rose version was on the shelf, also made of 100% Pinot Nero grapes.
Bonus: it didn't even sport a cutesy name. So I ponied up $25 plus tax and took it home.
I enjoyed the satisfying "pop" of the cork. In the glass, the color was an intense, rosy pink. It's very pretty, even the foam at the top of the flute blushed pale pink, and I thought it might make for a fun bubbly toast for a bridal shower or other festive, girly event.
Despite a pleasant cherry-berry scent, the wine honestly didn't taste like much. I just got the carbonation on my tongue, a bit of sweetness (this is not a dry wine) and then a lingering floral aftertaste that reminded me a bit of bubble bath.
I tried two pairings, first with pasta with mushrooms and goat cheese, which was OK but didn't do much for either the pasta or the wine. Then I remembered my research for last week's column on dessert pairings—pastry wizard Gale Gand had gushed about "pink bubbles" as a great pairing for all desserts. I grabbed a handful of chocolate kisses and tried again—awful. It turned the wine tart.
Overall, I was underwhelmed by my Hello Kitty wine experience. Creepy to buy, and kind of ordinary to drink.
Maybe I should have entered this venture with a little more caution. There's a tradition of "critter wines" in the vino world—those are the ones with labels graced by animals, ranging from frogs to kangaroos (hello, Yellow Tail) and beyond. The category is overwhelmingly dominated by images of dogs or cats. Some people love critter wines, and we need to do a "Critter Wine Smackdown" on Serious Grape sometime soon. But I've been warned that good critter wines are few and far between—that cute labels often compensate for mediocre wines.
My assessment is that Hello Critter, I mean, Hello Creepy, I mean, Hello Kitty wine, falls into that cute-but-mediocre category. Sorry, Kitty.
About the author: Kara Newman has written about wine and spirits for such publications as Wine Enthusiast and Sommelier Journal magazines, and is the author of Spice & Ice, which explores 60 tongue-tingling cocktails.
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