The Book

The Author


See Who's Got It

Odd Facts


Robin Garr

Quirk Books



    There was room in Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape to fit only two pages of additional odd facts about the labels , so here are some more.
African Legend
Pinotage’s history is told at – home of the variety’s fan club.
Arrogant Frog
won a Silver Medal for their label design in the 2005 Wine & Spirit International Design Awards competition
Les Amoureux
The works of artist Raymond Peynet, who drew the lovers on the label, can be seen at, a website run by his daughter.
Big House Red 2001
70,000 cases of Big House Red 2001 red, (and 10,000 Big House White) wines were released, all closed with a Stelvin™ screwcap. There’s a website to mark the event at
Bulamanaka is Australian slang for somewhere extremely remote, Indeed, it can be nigh impossible to locate on maps.
Dynamite maker Carmenet Winery’s brand name and wine stocks were taken over by Beringer Blass Wine Estates, but the vineyards and winery building remain part of Chalone Wine Estates.
Fat Bastard
Fat Bastard Chardonnay sold in South Africa is made there from grapes grown there in the Robertson area.
Frog's Piss
Frog's Piss is used as an example of a missplaced apostrophe by Lynne Truss in her mega-selling book Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It should, of course, be Frogs' Piss. The English may call the French ‘frogs’, but the French retaliate by calling the English ‘Le Ros-bifs’ (roast beefs). I know which I’d prefer.
Full Montepulciano
For the origin of the term The Full Monty punned by The Full Montepulciano, plus many other words and phrases, visit Michael Quinion’s excellent World Wide Words site at
Goats do Roam
Some of Charles (Goats do Roam) Back’s flock of goats live in a circular brick tower just outside the Fairview winery entrance. Wooden staves wind around the outside providing a spiral stair way for the goats. The tower is used as a logo of Fairview wines.
Hair of the Dingo
Hear a dingo howl and find out more about this wild dog by visiting the Australian Dingo Conservation Association site at
Laid Back Ruby
Laid Back Ruby and other Co-op own label wines have been on the shelves for over a year now without any sign of the authorities having the appetite to enforce the anti-consumer wine labelling rules. The Co-op says “All Co-op brand alcoholic drinks will carry a full list of ingredients used. We will also feature all the information we believe you have a right to know and which will help you make an informed choice. We will continue to press for a change in the law and for legislation to be introduced that will make it compulsory for other producers to list their ingredients in full.”
Lazy Lizard
The lizard on the label of the white Lazy Lizard, which is made from Xhardonnay, is wearing sun glasses.
Le Fiat Door
Le Fiat Door isn’t the only wine in the fleet; there’s a matching white wine called Le Seat Door. Seat is another car manufacturer.
Marilyn Merlot
Marilyn Merlot has been joined by a Cabernet and an entry level younger wine called Norma Jeane (Marilyn Monroe’s real name), plus the premium Velvet Collection wine whose labels have nude Marilyn photos, covered for shop display by a peel off plastic sheet. These come from the session with Tom Kelley in May 1949 that famously featured in Playboy’s first issue in 1953. The incomparable actress Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on 1 June 1926 and died tragically young on 5 August 1962. Her movies included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Some Like It Hot.
Pinot Express
The Pinot Express label was designed by Bradford Lennon. The world famous Pony Express, which inspired the name, was in operation for just 18 months in 1860-1. Relays of riders on fast horses faced inhospitable territory and hostile Indians to carry letters almost 2000 miles from Missouri to Sacramento, California. A San Francisco newspaper advertisment for riders read “Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” The main Benton Lane labels are in the style of early American postage stamps, in particular the famous ‘inverted jenny’ which was misprinted with an upside down airplane and are now very valuable. These labels, which have won several awards, were designed by Jim Moon who collected stamps as a child. The winery were tempted to affix labels of the first few cases of each vintage upside down be more collectable, but they held back in case the contravened packaging regulations. Hot.
Le Prince
Le Prince just starts to discuss the history of playing cards, for exhaustive information visit the International Playing Card Society web site at
le Secret Frere Nonenque
The Morrastel variety found in in le Secret Frere Nonenque is probably the same as the Graciano grape grown in Spain
Stella Bella Winery, makers of Suckfizzle, gets its name from Company Director-winemaker Janice McDonald who, in a previous job, had the Australian license to brew the Belgium beer Stella Artois.
Star Galaxy
Star Galaxy Red’s label won the Domestic Label Gold Medal at the 9th Annual British Columbia Wine Label Awards in 2004.’s Bernie Hadley-Beauregard of Brandever Strategy Inc was Creative Director, Greg White was illustrator, with graphics by Ingo Holst
Sonoma Beach
Stu Pedasso and his ‘Sonoma Beach’ appellation were invented by the Topolos Winery people one evening when they were playing around trying to top each other with outrageous wine names. They didn’t expect to get label approval from the authorities and assume the officials ‘just didn’t get it’. At the time of writing Topolos is up for sale and Stu Pedasso’s future is uncertain.
Texas played an integral role in the history of wine. It was Dr T V Munson’s work in Texas using native vines as rootstock for wine producing vinifera that saved the worlds' wine.
Writers Block
If you visited Cape Town’s Waterfront attraction then you probably walked over Writers Block as Flagstone matured its wines in cellars at the old harbor. Their new winery is in an old dynamite factory.
Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape
Odd Wines from Around the World

by Peter F May
Published by Quirk Books 1 June 2006
256 pages, all full colour
Introduction by Robin Garr
ISBN: 1594740992
Price: US = $16.95
Price: UK = £10.99


Introduction | The Book | The Author
Reviews | See Who's Got It
Odd Facts | Updates
Robin Garr | Quirk Books | Distributors
1 May 2006