Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anthony Bourdain Blasts 9/11 Wine, But I Think He's Wrong

Anthony Bourdain This photo posted at this blo...Image via WikipediaCelebrity chef and television star Anthony Bourdain has blasted a controversial wine that's being sold to commemorate the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for the symbolic sum of $19.11. Calling the wines "grotesque, exploitative," and "vomit inducing," Bourdain reacted swiftly to the news and pulled some strings to remove the product from his former restaurant's menu. 

New York City Councilman Peter Vallone may have had the best line, saying "What's next? A 9/11 pastrami sandwich?" The 9/11 Memorial Commemorative wines are produced by Lieb Cellars on Long Island.

Some proceeds of all sales will go towards the National September 11 Memorial Museum. This amounts to 10 percent of sales.

Although Lieb is under fire from all directions, this is not a clear cut call in my opinion. Lieb is a well respected New York winery and I believe their intentions are good. It's not a flim-flam exploiting tragedy for financial gain.

Don't leap to conclusions. I had a similar reaction as the critics about a different wine, Cleavage Creek. At first I thought the brand was an attempt to make some profit while demeaning women. Upon closer examination, I found I was completely wrong. The wine labels featured breast cancer survivors and 10% of gross proceeds went to breast cancer research. The winery owner had lost his wife to cancer.

Lieb has been selling wine for this cause since 2004. Mark and Kathy Lieb were deeply affected by the tragedy. They had both worked on Wall Street for many years prior to 9/11, and lost friends and former colleagues in the WTC attacks. "We wanted to contribute in our own way to ensure that the tragic events of 9/11 are never forgotten," said Mr. Lieb. "The commemorative wine gives our winery, as well as restaurants and individuals, the opportunity to participate in the annual observance and to support September's Mission Foundation."

Monica Iken, who founded September's Mission Foundation after losing her husband Michael in the 9/11 tragedy, said she deeply appreciates the donation. "Whoever purchases this special wine will not only be remembering the heroes and innocent victims of that terrible tragedy, but will be supporting our efforts to develop programs at the future memorial site, as well as the 9/11 'Living Memorial,' an internet-based web portal project that will be accessible to everyone."

Doesn't it make sense? If you make wine, wouldn't you want to use your business to make a positive impact in the aftermath of the devastating 9/11 attack? This is a case of what may be a bad idea by well intentioned people who are now enduring a withering media attack.
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