Hello Kitty Wines? Hello Drunken Kids!
First produced in 2002, early Hello Kitty alcoholic products--like these French wines dubbed "Mariage" and "Bouquet d'Amour"--had rather somber labels.
The Hello Kitty empire had its origins in 1974, when designer Ikuko Shimizu invented the character to embellish a coin purse. Snapped up by Japan's Sanrio company, the character is now responsible for over $1 billion in licensing profits per year, and the Hello Kitty empire now includes toys, candies, fashions, a theme park, and even a lawn mower. Where to go from there?
One answer is the sale of alcoholic beverages. Since 2002, Sanrio has licensed a series of Hello Kitty wines. At first these were made in France and marketed principally in Japan, but now an agreement with Patrizia Torti winery of Lombardy, Italy, allows the brand (which includes Kitty Brut and Sweet Pink Rose) to be distributed worldwide.
Believe it or not, the sweet, light, fizzy wines are now available in New York. According to the New York Japanese-language periodical ChopsticksNY, the wines are available at the following liquor stores:
Astor Wines & Spirits (212-674-7500)
Bowery & Vine Wine & Spirits (212-941-7943)
Columbus Avenue Wines & Spirits (212-865-7070)
Sea Grape Wine Shop (212-463-7688)
Vintage Grape Fine Wine & Spirits (212-535-6800)
And at the following karaoke bar:
Karaoke Top Tunes (212-758-3818)
A call to Astor Wines revealed that the store has been sold out of Kitty Brut for quite some time, but they expect more by the end of April. When Astor had it in stock, the price was around $25, but that may increase with the next batch.
Opines Fork in the Road beer consultant Tracy Van Dyk: "Weird that the company is allowed to market alcoholic beverages to children." Maybe she's right. Hello Kitty wines might just go the way of Joe Camel cigarettes.
Next: More pictures of Hello Kitty wine products of the last eight years