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Issue Date: September 2009

On Tap: A Wine Tail

Faith Hampton
From Yellow Tail’s kangaroo to Frog Leap’s amphibians, from blind moose to hippos, more animal-themed wine labels are creeping onto shelves in a marketing effort to attract wine drinkers. They’ve even earned their own designation — critter wines. So if you’re partial to vintages that taste as entertaining as they look, we’ve got a few suggestions.

Shaun Hardon, general manager of Wine Bar Rocky River, says Michael & David Petite Petit ($10, glass; $38, bottle) is as fun as the elephant-sporting label. “It’s circus-themed and kind of atypical compared to old-style wine makers,” he says. “I enjoy it for its fruit-forward and soft finish.”

Cyrus Davarpanah of Moxie loves the whale-riding monkey from Dashe Cellars’ Zinfandel ($10, glass; $40, bottle). “It’s a really rich red wine. That makes it special. It’s jammy with a lot of concentrated dry fruits,” he says.

At Grotto Wine Bar, manager Rosie Soutz prizes the ceramic China rhinoceros on the label of La Spinetta Barbera Bionzo ($16, glass; $62, bottle). “It’s a really lush, full-bodied Italian wine that goes great with a rich tomato sauce,” she says.

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