The food and wine business is tough. Developing a product, branding it, selling it, and keeping it alive and vibrant for your customers requires a Gulliver-sized effort. The food and wine business is a place where profits are measured in cents, not dollars, for most owners—the vast majority of whom toil in obscurity despite our Food Network celebrity-chef-driven culture that would have us believe that every good-looking foodie can cook and those not participating in our 24/7/365 feeding frenzy haven’t “made it” yet. Making matters worse, having the best product, the best restaurant, or the culinary equivalent of the ‘killer app’ (pun intended) isn’t enough to guarantee success these days. And conversely, having the best product is no guarantee of success and oftentimes the most popular eateries serve mediocre food with middling service in a boring space. Such is life. Recipes for success are hard to come by, which makes this story that came across the wire so utterly fascinating. For those of you who have toiled for decades trying to create the perfect glass of wine, wheel of cheese, or loaf of honey-nut bread, continue reading at your own peril.
Savanna Samson, celebrity porn star, has launched her own wine company. It’s a gimmick right? A conceit . . .like Jimmy “JJ” Walker cologne or David Hasselhoff coffee mugs. Her wine can’t possibly be any good, can it?
According to Reuters News Service, the wine received a score of 91 out of 100 from vino-phile guru Robert Parker, placing it in the uppermost pantheon of scores from the wine world's ultimate arbiter of taste. Parker is known as the most important wine critic and writer in the world and according to his newsletter, a score in that range is an “outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character.” Savanna Samson, the star of The New Devil in Miss Jones, has made a great wine, and is now one of the leading lights in two industries. Holy crap!
But she is no fluke, and this is no gimmick. According to Samson (thirty-one-year-old Natalie Oliveros in real life), she went to a respected winemaker, Italy's Robert Cipresso (according to Reuters he is also ironically one of the vintners employed by the Vatican) to help her with her label. She went to Tuscany and tasted dozens of Cipresso's Italian-grown varietals, then she selected a mix of 70 percent Cesanese, 20 percent Sangiovese, and 10 percent Montepulciano grapes. She ordered more than 400 cases and had them labeled with her likeness. I am quoting Reuters now quoting her: Samson said, "I knew I wanted Roberto to make my wine—I just love his passion for wine." Her wine is called Sogno Uno, a 2004 vintage of a blended Italian red wine with Savanna's name and a label of Samson in a see-through gown. The wire reports added this juicy quote from Parker's review as well: "Trust me, I didn't add any points for Ms. Samson's personal presentation." QUICK, someone get me Jeff Koons and La Cicciolina on the phone!
You cannot make this stuff up!
Now, Savanna Samson is one of the biggest stars in the porn world; she is an Adult Video News Awards winner several times over and she is the star of more than twenty-four adult films, so when she says her wine "really represents who I am," my interest piqued. The Reuters story quotes her as describing her wine thusly: ' "There's spiciness—the Cesanese has the naughty side of me. And yet it's an elegant wine. I love the opera, and I'm a classically trained ballet dancer. And there is some chocolate undertone, which I just love. There's a little bit of sweetness. Like, 10 percent of the time I'm sweet.' Now Samson is working on a white wine and is thinking of expanding into champagne, ice wine, and grappa.”
To all those now about to put the metaphoric gun to their head, I beg you to stop. This is good news. The idea that a porn star can leverage herself out into the wine world is a crazy notion, and some may find it distasteful, but for me all arguments end when her product becomes as good as all the advance word says it is. Only in America.