Oh Mateus, it’s not enough for me: A tale of two new bottles

A FEW YEARS AGO I was searching for a thank-you gift for a friend of mine who did me a favour.

Me being me, I couldn’t give him a bottle of whisky and be done with it; I had to buy him a gag gift as well just to make him squirm for a little while.

Being a wine geek, he has deeply entrenched views on those cheap, branded wines sold in supermarkets to the masses. The mere mention of Piat d’Or is enough to send him into a rant about what those wines say about the people who buy them. Top tip: If he ever invites you over for dinner, you had better not bring him Piat d’Or.

So there I was in the local off licence looking for something to give my friend a coronary, surrounded by bottles of Blossom Hill, Gallo Turning Leaf, Barefoot, Echo Falls; basically I was in the middle of a motley crew of lowest-common-denominator grape-flavoured alcoholic beverages.

And then that bulbous brown bottle caught my eye.

Mateus Rosé. Hideous in appearance, revolting in flavour. Ah, Mateus, how could I have gone so long in life having forgotten you?

As expected, when I presented the bottle to my friend, feigning pride and gushing about how I wanted to show my appreciation, the look of shock and confusion on his face was obvious, even if he was trying to stifle it.

Drinking it later – after his pulse had settled – we could only muster a few sips before our gag reflexes kicked in. Nothing could save this horrible wine, we thought, and dumped it down the drain.

Luckily Mateus themselves saw room for improvement so they pulled out all the stops here, giving it…an improved bottle design and a screw cap.


So what has happened? The firm has decided that it will now be available *only* with a screw cap in the UK (good for those moments when you find yourself in the middle of London Fields without a corkscrew or, if you’re the sort, brown-bagging it at 8:30am on Upper Street).

And now there is also a pink hue to the bottle instead of the traditional brown, a colour reminiscent of the 1970s and Sunday roasts accompanied with ghastly pink wine. Oh, and the motif on the label has been modernised as well – not that anyone ever knew or noticed what was.

This amazing curious news reminded me of Bollinger’s announcement last week that it had changed the shape of its 750ml bottle across almost its entire range to one with a narrower neck and a wider base. This was to make it behave more like a magnum and, therefore, give better cellaring potential for the contents. That, my friends, is the sort of thing I want to hear.

The upside of Bollinger’s decision to use a design that dates from 1846 is to slow down the oxygen exchange in the bottle is that not only does good things to an already great wine (yes that’s my bias coming out), but it is dead sexy as well. As though I didn’t already need a reason to buy it.