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Aug 23, 2011 08:39 PM

9/11 Commemorative Wines vs. Bourdain

So another thread is piling up the posts on Deen vs. Bourdain:

Anthony Bourdain has to be one of the most controversial figures in food-related media - not because he has some gimmick - because he seems to say things up front - the things we all wish we could say with such a platform. Well, it doesn't take long for controversy to rear up its ugly head and of course it doesn't take much longer than that for Mr. Bourdain to slay such beasts. 9/11 commemorative wines for $19.11? C'mon, tell me this ain't real...

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  1. How is this wine "grotesque, exploitative," and "vomit inducing," per Bourdain?

    From the article, part of the proceeds (a minor part, but still) goes towards the 9/11 Memorial Museum Fund.

    How is that a bad thing?

    19 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      >>a minor part, but still<<

      Add together all the aspects of this product, and it seems tacky as well as smacking of exploitation to me. Maybe I'm just being overly sensitive about the issue, but it rubbed me the wrong way as well after reading this...

      1. re: bulavinaka

        Add together all the aspects of this product ...


        What other aspects? Aside from the price ($19.11 or $9.11), what other aspects do you find tacky or exploitative?

          1. re: ipsedixit

            The winery offering this wine is not my business nor do I claim to be an expert in modeling wine businesses, but 6-10% doesn't seem much. I checked the other two wineries mentioned which also offer wines for causes and they each contribute 20% and 15% respectively. Blatantly marketing something as this 9/11 wine would lead me to believe they'd be contributing a lot more than 6-10%, but that's just me. I give 5% to charities every paycheck and I'm not even a wealthy oenophile.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              That 6% is total sales for the winery, not just the commerative 9/11 bottles.

              The sales from $19.11 bottles will all go to charity.

              From the Yahoo article:
              "Lieb Cellars, meanwhile, says proceeds of all sales will go towards the National September 11 Memorial Museum. In an interview with the LA Times, the winery said that amounts to six to 10 percent of sales."

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Yes, and there is a big difference between a percentage of sales vs. a percentage of profits. 6% of total winery sales is a serious commitment--to me it is a lot more than an exploitative gimmick to sell more wine.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Of all sales of what? Of the commemorative wines? All of Lieb's wines out the door? For how long? I saw it differently - it's vague. So still - let's go with 6% of gross - assuming that it is the winery's total gross - is better than nothing, but all of this about the 9/11 wines still makes me want to spit for the wrong reasons.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    We'll take a very conservative number for argument's sake, bulavinaka, and say it's 6% of profits from just the 19.11 and 9.11 bottles.

                    Even that amount, I think the effort should be applauded.


                    Because there is ultimately *some* money going to the 9/11 Memorial.

                    Whereas the alternative is *no* money being donated by this company.

                    And, yes, the winery gets some free publicity (e.g. like us debating the topic), but so what.

                    It's a means to an end, and in this case the ends really do justify the means (at least in my opinion).

                    Now, to get back on topic, how much is Bourdain donating to the 9/11 Memorial Fund? 6% of all gross revenues from No Reservations? From A Cook's Tour? From Kitchen Confidential?

                    1. re: ipsedixit


                      Because there is ultimately *some* money going to the 9/11 Memorial.

                      Whereas the alternative is *no* money being donated by this company.<<

                      If this is the only way that Lieb can think of giving to this fund, I think a new heart and soul is in order. You and I see this issue diametrically opposed. I'm wishing that Lieb had more tact in their marketing, which in this case to me is everything. You seem to have no issues with it and feel this as a vehicle to contribute is fine. I don't see Scylla nor Charybdis as being the only two options, but that's just me.

                      Asking what Bourdain has contributed to the fund is deflecting IMHO. He's not offering 9/11 wine at at prices in series of 9s and 1s. Whether he has or not, I don't know, and I'm not sure he would disclose this either way - not his style IMHO.

            2. re: bulavinaka

              It's my understanding that the Memorial Fund actually requested that the wine be so labelled. Bourdain is a pompous, self-important asshole who NEVER checks his facts or anyone else's feelings before he spouts his trash.

              1. re: Parrotgal

                Tell us how you really feel about Mr. Bourdain.

                1. re: linguafood

                  LOL. I usually just bite my tongue and keep it to myself, because people looooove him so much, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I'm an opinionated loudmouth, just like he is, but I try to at least think before I start spouting insults.

                2. re: Parrotgal

                  and your point is? the memorial fund should have known better. if you take a quick look, you will see that half the articles written don't even mention Tony. People are so outraged that the story has gone global and even made the headlines as far away as Australia.

                  1. re: Bellachefa

                    LOL. I was gonna say the same. Sounds like the Memorial Fund is run by at least a couple of self-aggrandizing asshats.

                  2. re: Parrotgal

                    I don't think Bourdain needs to check the facts on this one. It's his opinion, like a lot of what he flames or praises. I did a quick search on the Memorial Fund and Lieb is this is one of many articles that are covering this story. Ignore the writer's experience/opinion (which most seem articles seem to side with Tony/me/Chow story) and you'll see some more info regarding the marketing aspects of this.


                    Let's assume Bordain made nothing but knee-jerk remarks about this issue without looking deeper. Put this article in front of him and let him glean the relative info - I think his response would roughly be the same.

                3. re: ipsedixit

                  Because if you're classy, you donate some money as a company.

                  If you are attention whore, you name a product after a major disaster/act of violence and then donate money.

                  1. re: tastyjon


                    Bourdain makes me laugh, but I don't worship him...but I'm with him on this one.

                    Having worked for an attention whore/self-aggrandizing asshat who made a BFD out of how much money was donated to charity, I can also say with some certainty that I want to see the details of EXACTLY how much money they're donating to charity. It's pretty amazing how LITTLE 10% of profits turns out to be by the time the asshats get done polishing the numbers.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      'It's pretty amazing how LITTLE 10% of profits turns out to be by the time the asshats get done polishing the numbers.'
                      Agreed...companies can make twist their profit numbers around in all kinds of ways. The article linked about reports that they are contributing 6 to 10% of sales. Not profits.

                      1. re: jlhinwa

                        I still want to know what the numbers on the check are -- and is it 6% or 10% -- that's a BIG difference.

                        Asshats have a way of subtracting all kinds of crap to reduce the donation to just enough to validate the claim that "I made a contribution" -- meanwhile the number isn't ever as big as they flogged it publicly to be.

                        Vulture marketing, morbid packaging, and just plain squicky promotions -- nope. I'll make my donation directly to the charity -- just like I usually do.

                4. I don't see anything offensive about it. Yes, it might sound a little less gimicky if they made the price a round number instead of something with a "9.11" in it, but other than that, I cannot find any fault.

                  No doubts there will be lots of folk trying to profit from 9/11 remembrances in some way or another. This is doing so in a way that is positive and potentially financially meaningful for a charity. Good for them.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jlhinwa

                    You'd think Tony and I are the only ones who gag at this line of products, but maybe not?


                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      Count me in. The winery can contribute to the cause in other ways if that was their goal. This is exploitative and tasteless. What's next, "Holocaust Merlot"?

                    2. I think the effort is to be commended, but perhaps the labeling and pricing are tacky?

                      It makes me wonder how much different this is really compared to something like this, which I received news about after the earthquake & tsunami in Japan (I participate in things like marathons & triathlons.) Part of the proceeds then and now go toward relief efforts, and there's clearly a reference to the event on the logo. However, I didn't see it as tacky or anything similar. Maybe it's all in the marketing, design, as well as personal perceptions?


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: josquared

                        The tsunami proceeds feel different to me. It's still fresh in our mind, there are people whose lives have literally been uprooted and are in desperate ways, and they truly need material help still to this day. I've given in so many ways to this effort - bake sales, pins, donation cups, eateries contributing a portion of my bill to the cause, internet fund-raising, etc.

                        This general area was also known for sake. The perfect storm here was that the many facilities - breweries, warehouses, etc., were severely damaged or wiped out. Furthermore, Japanese outside of the tsunami zone felt it wrong to be "celebrating" by drinking sake, while others in Japan were suffering. This shared grief resulted in a huge drop in sake sales - the sake from these areas that were already in the wholesale and retail pipelines were sitting, so no sales proceeds were being created which could otherwise help those in the area. So the word from the affected prefectures was to buy sake not for the sake of celebrating, but to generate income for many of the affected areas.

                        9/11 is coming up on 10 years. It doesn't feel like 10 years to me, but I know it's our generation's Pearl Harbor, similar to Japan's Hiroshima, and this kind of pain never goes away. Both of my parents are A-bomb survivors and my mom still curses Truman for pulling the trigger. With that said, I think all who feel the need to get involved and try to contribute something positive should look hard and fast at what and how they are planning to contribute. Anything short of contributing in way that offers deep honor and respect to the fallen and their families risks discounting the memories of such tragedies.

                        1. re: josquared

                          We're used to seeing a t-shirt or logo shirt as a symbol of raising awareness or expressing our beliefs/causes. A bottle of wine, or a 9/11 candybar or commemorative hot dog or whatever is a tenuous association with either the event it purports to commemorate or any attempt to raise awareness. It just smacks of a let's jump on the bandwagon and make a buck in the process.

                        2. Count me among the cynics who for the most part think that dredging up memories of 9/11 for any commercial purpose, especially this many years out, smacks of exploitation.

                          I read a piece on Salon the other day by a 9/11 widow who kept talking about how she didn't want to define herself as a 9/11 widow, that she was tired of fielding press calls, and how she just wanted to get on with her life. A few people commented that perhaps she should stop fielding the calls and writing about it, then, because it actually seemed to them that she was just milking as much mileage out of it as possible, even if it came in the guise of bemoaning her attachment to the event. I agreed.

                          I think one of the points Bourdain is trying to make is that intent matters. This winery could just donate a percentage of its proceeds/profits to the cause without labeling its wines with 9/11, but what is the intent? The intent appears first to generate publicity for themselves, then manipulate people emotionally into buying their wine so they can first profit and then donate the *proceeds*, however they choose to define that word. I think it's fairly sickening.

                          1. The intent is that the wine will be sold with profits to the Museum. Bloomberg and the Director of the 9/11 Foundation are standing behind this as well with no issue. This is a label that stands out since it is the 10th anniversary which makes it special and not in a bad way. A celebration that we as a country are better and the fact that these wines are produced and grown in NY State makes it even better. There are now 9/11 cupcakes, dog clothes, etc.... I am sure the ingredients for those products do not come from NY State or even the USA.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: taboo

                              FWIW, those cupcakes and doggy duds would make me wanna puke too. :P