Everybody has their vices and Vineland has just given us one more. VICE stands for Vodka and Icewine or maybe it’s Vineland Icewine or even still, Very Interesting Concocted Elixir … but whatever it means, VICE is the newest product from Vineland – a blend of 60% Icewine and 40% Vodka, a premixed Icewine martini. For the launch, at One Restaurant in Yorkville, Vineland took a page out of the beer and spirits marketing book employing the “VICE Squad”, very leggy, very attractive and very well endowed ladies with the brightest smile I’ve ever seen (thankfully there was no sign of Tubbs and Crockett). But this kind of glitter and flash usually means one thing: no substance. But in truth VICE there is much thought behind the VICE brand. For now it is a niche product for restaurants and bars that should sell exceptionally well; later this year when the consumer friendly 500ml size (~$33) comes out – you too should give it a whirl.
As for the substance and thought, many asked why now and why this product? In a conversation with Brian Schmidt, winemaker, I got where the idea came from and why. With a sagging icewine market Vineland felt they had to do something to jazz up the category; one of those things is to give people an idea about what to do with icewine. So as much as they want people to come out and buy their new product they are also hoping to boost the sales of icewine across Ontario, at all the wineries, not just their own. I do hope it catches on, because there is lots of icewine out there. The price of the pre-mix is definitely less than if you purchased the ingredients separately. The concept of an ‘icewine martini’ is not new; someone told me that this idea was first thought of by Donald Ziraldo (Inniskillin), who had one commissioned years ago – but this is the first time any company (winery or otherwise) has marketed one commercially.
As for VICE, here is the bottom line … this is one tasty beverage, and it goes down so easily with just a touch of sweetness, the blend is almost too perfect. After my fifth, or was it sixth (heck, I think I lost count around that point) I was glad the launch party wasn’t an all night affair or I would have had problems remembering where I lived. Kudos to Vineland for taking this little piggy to market … with no crying wee wee wee wee all the way home.
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