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Despicable marketing: A glass of Hitler Cabernet with a Mussolini chaser

on 03/10/12 at 9:37 am

Booze News

Nazis still sell: movies, books, weaponry — and even wine. Italian winery Lunardelli has found marketing bliss by plastering pictures of Adolf Hitler on its bottles.

Sticking Hitler on a wine label would be marketing death for most wineries. Wine marketing, a tricky business, is not solely about what’s in the bottle: The name and the look matter. And in Lunardelli’s case, they realllly matter.

Lunardelli winery has thrown conventional marketing out the window (common decency with it) and adopted a give-em-what-they-want approach. Since the mid-1990s, Lunardelli has produced a “Historical Line” of wines, with well-known figures on the labels. Hitler, Hess, Mussolini, Stalin and Franco are all featured on multiple bottles. (Churchill and FDR make an appearance in the collection as well. Lunardelli appears to be grasping for at least the semblance of moral balance.)

The bottles include direct captions to go with the pictures: Mein Kampf, Sieg Heil, Fuhrerwein, Ein volk, ein reich, ein Fuhrer (one people, one empire, one Fuhrer). Lunardelli deflects criticism by stating on their website: “…wine of optimal quality with labels that remind us of the lives of celebrated personages of Italian and world political history such as Che Guevara, Churchill, Francesco Giuseppe, Gramsci, Hitler, Marx, Mussolini, Napoleon and Sissi.”

Lunardelli has been taken to Italian court a couple of times with charges relating to promotion of facism. According to The Atlantic, authorities went after Lunardelli for their “glorification of the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.” The charges didn’t hold up in court and Lunardelli was exonerated. The Germans have been far more vigorous in protesting the Hitler wine varieties, calling for the Italian government to force a shutdown of Lunardelli production.

In other words, the legal storm will continue for Lunardelli. In America, putting Hitler on your wine bottle might bring a financial penalty from disapproving customers; in Europe, it might bring a jail cell.