Trinchero to change ‘Ménage à Trois’ wine label after complaint upheld

The Portman Group, which regulates alcohol branding in the UK, has found fault with a wine made by Napa Valley’s Trinchero Family Estates as it “created a link between the product and sex.”

US-based producer Trinchero has said it will change the labelling of one of its Ménage à Trois wines, Ménage à Trois Midnight, after the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel upheld an anonymous complaint against it.

The wine’s label says it is designed for “satisfying your deepest desires” and “turning out the lights and savouring the pleasures of the dark.”

Trinchero launched the Ménage à Trois wine brand in 1996 with two blends, one of which was a blend of three red varietals, and today, it is one of the best-selling brands in the US off-trade. The brand made Trinchero US$182 million in revenue in 2017, driven by a rise in demand for sweeter red wines. In fact, the the sweet red wine blend category was worth more than US$500m in the US in 2015, with over half the sector accounted for by just three brands: Apothic, Ménage à Trois and Cupcake Red Velvet.

There are currently eight expressions in the Ménage à Trois range. The midnight has a listing at Asda as well as some other smaller retailers across the UK.

The Portman Group has been cracking down on salacious drinks for some time. Just six months ago, it forced retailer M&S to change the name of its canned Porn Star Martini after a complainant said that it would “open the floodgates” to other suggestive cocktails.

While the wine has been around for years, in 2019, the Portman Group introduced the sixth edition of the Code of Practice, and commissioned Zenith Global to carry out an audit of 500 randomly selected products.

A statement from the Portman Group said that each time a new Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks is introduced, it commissions an independent audit of the market to measure compliance.

The auditor was concerned that Ménage à Trois Midnight might breach of the Code of Practice, which prohibits producers from labelling or marketing products in a way that makes “any association with sexual activity or sexual success.”

Given the references to satisfying desires, pleasures of the dark, and the fact that ménage à trois is a phrase meaning “a sexual encounter involving three people,” Zenith said the label does this quite a lot.

The panel said that “given the sexual connotations of the name, a producer using Ménage à Trois would have to work much harder to ensure it was not making a direct link to sex.”

The complaints panel is led by Jenny Watson CBE, a former chair of the Electoral Commission and chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Its judges come from a range of civic society, with backgrounds in education, youth work, charity, criminal justice, health, marketing, hospitality and the alcohol industry.

Watson said: “In this case, the Panel urged the producer to avoid linking the sexual meaning of the name to the product and remove the text description on the bottle which did this. The Panel’s decision is a reminder to all producers that care must be taken when marketing a product to ensure that it does not draw direct links between the product and sexual activity.”

A spokesperson for Trinchero Family Estates said the company will revise the label to remove any references to sex.

“Although we do not agree with the Panel’s interpretation under the Code, we respect the Panel’s view,” said a spokesperson, “and will undertake to revise the label to remove the mentioned references.”

One Response to “Trinchero to change ‘Ménage à Trois’ wine label after complaint upheld”

  1. Tami Loca says:

    Why would anyone in the UK drink that plonk when a much better EU wine is available for the same price or less?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters