It’s not surprising Bartenura Moscato’s new slogan is Out of the Blue—that’s perhaps the best way to describe the OU-certified kosher wine’s transformation from Shabbat dinner staple to nightclub drink of choice. While it’s no secret that Moscato has “replaced Cristal champagne as the conspicuous consumption beverage du jour,” with stars like Drake and Lil Kim rapping about the stuff, Bartenura’s emergence as the Moscato of choice is hardly an accident.
VinePair has the history of the distinctive blue bottle’s unlikely rise to hip-hop fame (all without alienating their original consumer base). It’s a feat of savvy marketing, excellent timing, and, of course, Drake.
In 2005, Lil’ Kim first rapped about her preference for the sweet wine when she said “Still over in Brazil sippin Moscato/ you must’ve forgot though/ so I’m a take it back to the block yo … ” With the popularity of the song and Kim, demand for Moscato began. At the time, there weren’t a ton of Moscatos on the market, and Bartenura was perfectly positioned to become the go-to bottle. “We saw rappers were talking about Moscato and identified the opportunity,” says Buschbaum [Bartenura’s executive vice president of marketing], “we bit the bullet and decided to spend a fortune against marketing the product to fans of hip-hop, and the plan worked.”
Kim’s preference for Moscato was no fluke, and as more rappers began to rhyme about it, Bartenura Moscato began to fly off the shelves. Drake was the next to fully embrace and push the sweet wine in 2009 with his rhyme, “It’s a celebration/ clap clap bravo / lobster and shrimp / and a glass of Moscato … ” “I like to think that being raised Jewish, Drake probably came in contact with Bartenura as a kid,” Buschbaum says. Perhaps it was this initial exposure and the nostalgia he had for the wine that caused Drake to become a fan of the blue bottle in the first place, though he’s never said so publicly.
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Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.