Monday, March 30, 2009
Layer Cake vs. Cupcake wine
As I've said before, I don't know a lot about wine. But I do know a lot about cakes and cupcakes. And let me tell you, it would take a whole lot of wine for me to confuse a slice of a layer cake with its cuter, paper-lined, frosting-on-top cousin.
Strangely, the possibility of confusing these two sweets is at the heart of an amusing lawsuit: the wine label Layer Cake is suing a different wine company whose wines are named Cupcake. From the 53-page lawsuit:
This is an action against Defendant for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition in connection with Defendant's use of the CUPCAKE trademark, which is confusingly similar to One True Vine's LAYER CAKE trademark.... Both marks refer to a form of "birthday cake"--with One True Vine referencing a grown-up "LAYER CAKE," while the Defendant has chosen to reference the alternative and youthful "CUPCAKE." One True Vine knows of no other wines sold in the Unites States under trademarks that refer similarly to "birthday cakes," so when consumer, who have imperfect memories, are trying to recollect the "CAKE" wine that they enjoyed or saw advertised in a circular or on-line, they will not be able to distinguish readily between LAYER CAKE and CUPCAKE.
Confusingly similar?! A wine labeled Cupcake is so similar to one labeled Layer Cake that it's trademark infringement? Wine drinkers are really unable to tell the difference? Now that's just stupid. But it gets better! Layer Cake also alleges that Cupcake is infringing on its rights because both companies use "a multi-varietal format for a single brand" (like, oh, almost all wine brands?) and both bottles feature a description of the wine that mentions its layers, a connection to cake, and a grandparent.
From Layer Cake: My old grandfather made and enjoyed wine for 80 years. He told me that the soil in which the vines lived were a layer cake. He said the wine, if properly made, was like a great layer cake, fruit, mocha, and chocolate, hints of spice and rich, always rich. "Never pass up a layer cake," he would say. I have always loved those words.
From Cupcake: Here the grapes mature slowly, giving them layers of complexity and a vibrant zing, reminiscent of your grandma's lemon chiffon cake. The flavors are integrated, delighting the senses with layer upon layer of Meyer lemons, Key limes, and a finish that awakens the appetite.... Between these layers are hints of kiwi, citrus, and grapefruit, giving this wine faint resemblance of a lemon chiffon cake.
Now, I'd argue that anything reminiscent of homemade cakes could realistically be connected to family recipes, baking at home, and even grandparents. Not such a stretch here. Definitely not a valid lawsuit, in my opinion.
Only one way to tell: A taste test! With real cake for comparison, of course. :)
(Incidentally, if you're interested in pairing wine with cupcakes, check out this article from Wine Enthusiast for ideas.)