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Friday 3 July 2015

Rude wine name offends Cantonese

7th February, 2012 by Patrick Schmitt

A wine brand from Chile is unknowingly offending Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong with its explicit name.

Called Chilensis, the label, from Via Wines in Chile’s Maule Valley, loosely translates as “f*cking nuts” according to a source in Hong Kong.

Following local press reports about the rude label demand has in fact soared for the wine, pushing prices up for Chilensis by HK$10 in a matter of days.

The wine was selling for HK$49 in Hong Kong off-licences and supermarkets, but has now risen to HK$59.

News of the inadvertently offensive brand name highlights the need for caution when releasing labels in the Far East.

Indeed, it has been reported by db before that Château Latour may have failed to perform as well as fellow first growths in the important Chinese market because its name loosely translates as “to fall down” – which is unfortunate considering the exchange of Bordeaux grand crus classés in business circles, particularly after important deals have been concluded.

Other embarrasing translations come from the soft drink sector, where, for example, Pepsi mistakenly used the slogan “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave” when trying to translate “Pepsi Brings you Back to Life” into Chinese.

Similarly, Coca-Cola’s first attempt to translate its brand into Chinese with “Ke-kou-ke-la” acutally meant “female horse stuffed with wax”, although the current “Ko-kou-ko-le” translates as the rather more suitable “happiness in the mouth”.

12 Responses to “Rude wine name offends Cantonese”

  1. Stephen Mack says:

    Whoever the source is which has suggested such a meaning for this name does not have a very good grasp of Cantonese. Such potential offence would only be caused if the wine was called Chilensin. Nothing spoils a good story more than the truth. .

  2. Chester Worthington says:

    I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been in the news if some who reside in Hong Kong were not offended. Twists of truth or not.

  3. Phew – thought for a moment it was C*ntflaps…

    The Sediment Blog

  4. David says:

    “Following local press reports about the rude label demand has in fact soared for the wine, pushing prices up for Chilensis by HK$10 in a matter of days.”

    Am i missing something…just why do i need caution in naming wines in the Far East if the result is soaring demand?

  5. Stephen Mack says:

    As much as I admire Chester’s faith in the media of only reporting genuine concern, there is not one single Chinese character which has the ‘s’ sound at the end of it so there is not one single Cantonese speaker who could possibly understand, let alone be offended, by the name of the wine.

  6. Alejandro says:

    They got lucky this time, and the marketing blunder turned out to be beneficial. But if the mistake had turned out to be something like “You have no honor”, or “your mother has the face of a horse’s ass”, I don’t think they would’ve had the profitable results they did this time.

  7. I think the high time has come to creatively insult the hell out of every market using every marketable word and make a killing slyly off of wines and other services.

  8. *hick* lets get sloshed! their all fu*cking nuts *hick* com’on! *hick*

  9. Tai-Ran Niew says:

    Though we should never generalise across an ethnic group of over 1.5 billion people, I find it hard to believe that ANY Chinese person would be offended by a foreign name. Or that Latour under performance has anything to do with it’s name.

    The Chinese noveau riche are no different from e.g. the Romans, the British industrialist, the Americans (have you been to Orange County?) . Similarly, across the ages and the globe, there exists millions in the same nation/empire who have a different outlook to life.

    Perhaps if the media can actually be bothered to learn the Chinese language and really understand the culture and the people, they will have a better chance at working out what drives the market. Anyone with a vague understanding of China would have told you the Lafite no. 8 will backfire spectacularly. And that the switch to DRC was obviously going to happen. And that HK Chinese will find this label amusing, not offensive, thus sales will increase.

    But that would actually be proper journalism. And won’t be as much fun as patronising disdain!

  10. John Tweddle says:


  11. Leo Ferrando says:

    By the way, remember that RollsRoyce, that had to change the name ´Silver Mist´ in Germany, because there it means ´silver d*ung’ even at that price? Or that Mitsubishi 4WD ´Pajero´ that while speeding in dirty roads, in spanish means ´w*anker´ anyway? Or that old argentinian red, cheap table wine ´Pico Rojo´, that in Chile means ‘red d*ick’ and that then, of course, a bottle showed up in every meeting ? Etc…

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