Log In / Join Now

The WWE Puts the Smackdown on a Philly Wine School

Plus, reality TV turns to winemaking, and a new wine video game puts you in charge of the winery

Posted: October 22, 2009

Aggressive trademark disputes between wineries are nothing new, but this is the first time Unfiltered has seen a Goliath like Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) go after the David-esque Wine School of Philadelphia. WWE recently delivered a cease and desist letter to the school after becoming aware of its popular “Sommelier Smackdown” series of events, in which instructors and local wine professionals compete to create the most crowd-pleasing wine and food matches. The WWE claims that the school has infringed on its copyright of the term “smackdown.” Wine School of Philadelphia founder Keith Wallace told Unfiltered, “Every intellectual lawyer worth their salt has told me that this is bogus, and the WWE doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” adding that the school plans to counter-file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an attempt to have WWE’s trademark on the phrase cancelled. Additionally, the fracas has inspired Wallace to add a “Burgundy Cage Match” to the school’s roster of events. Unfiltered can only assume that McMahon and the WWE are still bitter about being forced to abandon its former WWF identity when the World Wildlife Fund came calling. As our mother would have told us, “Pick on someone your own size!”

• We’ve seen just about every conceivable flavor of reality show on television, from Big Brother to Biggest Loser and all points in between, and the inevitable has happened: There’s a new reality show about winemaking. Twelve people from all walks of life (a couple of attorneys, a few from the world of wine wholesaling and marketing, a restaurant owner …), are competing for the chance to create and launch their very own wine. In each episode they will be, true to the genre, dropped into scenarios and challenges that focus on aspects of winemaking, from viticulture and enology to sales and marketing, and we are sure there will be plenty of curveballs as well. And what would a reality show be without judges? The Winemakers will be judged by 12 members of the trade, from master of wine and master sommelier Doug Frost to Jean-Luc Le Dû, the sommelier turned wine distributor. The show is airing on PBS; check your local listings for air times and dates.

• Unfiltered was surprised to hear about the video game winemaking simulation Winemaker Extraordinaire earlier this year, but it would appear that demand for vicarious winemaking is on the rise: Wine Tycoon is the newest winemaking computer game and, while entirely Francocentric in scope, it actually has a lot to offer. You start your career off in Alsace and your “vineyard cred” increases from there as you make your way up the grape chain to big properties in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and the issues that come with them. There are budgets to keep, vines to select, bottling and blending, staff to hire, etc… all in all, probably the most faithful reproduction to date. You have the capacity to make more than 50 French wines from more than 40 different grape varieties, so the creators at Got Game Entertainment did their homework. Unfiltered thinks that the “enchanting French atmosphere,” which is essentially a continuous loop of accordion music, gets old fast and you will be looking for the mercifully supplied mute button, but otherwise, it’s a fun way to kill some unproductive hours in the cubicle, unless of course you’re a Mac user—Wine Tycoon is only available on PC for now.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.