Re-naming sherry

The Fortified Sustainability Project; it should have been a warning that they might not come up with brilliant names.

The business of re-naming fortifieds that have used Spanish, Portuguese and Hungarian names for over a hundred years has begun – sherry and tokay are to be renamed apera and topaque. I read about it in The Age in an article by Lisa Port, who will shortly have to find herself a new surname.

Other names that were considered (I”m not making them up):

For sherry – Solzay, Solperi, Aperire, Alphrette

For tokay – Millifera, Russet, Muscadelle, Allirea

‘Millifera’ sounds like bacteria and ‘russet’ like something dogs get.

Naming by committee is problematic. In the case of ‘apera’ they’ve tried to allude to aperitifs, to position the wine as a pre-dinner drink. ‘Topaque’ just sounds like an awkward imitation of tokay; the “let’s just cross our fingers and hope they don’t notice” approach. Ironic that the Chairman of the Project, Colin Campbell, said they wanted names that “would invigorate those products because obviously we’re not looking to just sustain the sales, we’re looking to increase sales”.

He said they were looking for new names which are exciting, emotive and switch people on. Well let me belatedly volunteer a few of those:

Sherry: Spank, Viola, Gothic, Cheek, Curve
Tokay: Toast, Trick, Trouble

Because they’re not invented names you probably wouldn’t get a trade mark; do you desperately need a trademark? Champagne never had one.

And if you absolutely had to have the security of a trademark, could you not be a little more adventurous? What about Shhhh or Sh~*~? I haven’t decided whether that last question mark is part of the name.

The New World wine community has been completely done over by the Europeans. If the New World had cooperated and created international replacement names they could have seriously challenged in these categories. As it is, each country will determine their own replacement names and export marketing is doomed by fragmentation.

I don’t think a replacement name has been decided on for port. On current form, they’ll invent a short word that sounds like port with a European note: Fort or Forti.

But that does not deliver on “exciting, emotive and switch people on”. Trial. Quiet. Lounge. 100. Duel.



  1. or: for port, what about ‘ole?
    (short for porthole)
    “fancy a quick ‘ole?”
    that’s gold!
    some people would confuse it with the Spanish !ole!, which would be good too.
    where do I collect my $100??

  2. Port is a fairly popular drink in Australia and it probably won’t matter much what it’s called. People will cotton on quickly and sales will continue as they are. Sherry and Tokay are more tricky as they’re not so popular and not so distinctive. Sherry comes in very different styles and I think most people just know Tokay as a sweet fortified wine. How many people could dintinguish between Tokay and Muscat?

    Sherry, particularly dry sherry, should be more popular here than it is. In Spain, which has a climate similar to ours, it’s drunk all the time everywhere. What is needed in this time of financial mayhem is for some courageous and far-sighted winemaker to start a campaign for this new wine “with a style similar to the very best Spanish sherries” and name it after his own region, providing the region has a suitable name. This, after all, is how European wines are usually named. Sherry comes from Jerez, port from Porto. Calling it Margaret probably wouldn’t be good, Swan maybe, Barossa good, MacLaren good, Hunter dubious. Winemakers from other areas would be allowed to use the name – the area that started it would have the advantage that for ever after people would feel that the REAL MacLaren came from MacLaren Vale, and anything else was an imitation.

  3. Agree with your assessment but can’t see Rutherglen agreeing to ‘MacLaren’. Ultimately all things are political. Will need a location-neutral name.

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