Wine Muse discovered in Portugal – the tempting images of the House of Ramos Pinto

2008 Douro Collection

When I gave winemaker Rui Cunha my card, he laughed and said that I would find the wine muses at Ramos Pinto, the next stop on our trip.  Imagine my delight when Ramos Pinto descendent Joao Almeida told me about the ‘inspirational’ images founder Adriano Ramos Pinto used for marketing wines beginning in the 1890’s to seduce a new generation of buyers in export markets.

The House of Adriano Ramos Pinto was founded on exports to the growing Portuguese colony of Brazil.  So when Adriano devised his marketing strategy, he searched for a novel way to brand his wines in a way that would be simple but visually impactful to have universal appeal.  But rather than use today’s fanciful critters that convey “fun” for the novice drinker, this man of bourgeois spirit and connoisseur of the arts decided to use images of la femme to provoke memories of pleasure that sells products.

For five decades, Adriano Ramos Pinto authorized several hundred PR pieces for bottle labels, newspaper ads and artistic posters that focused on a central theme:  the art of seduction by la femme.  He sought the best of contemporary artists in Portugal, Paris, Belgium, Brazil and Milan to create “unique, original works conceived exclusively for his own visual and spiritual pleasure”[1] and famously rejected some lesser-known artists at the time like Toulouse-Lautrec.  The art is evocative of the styles of the time, naturalist, modernist and most of all, belle epoque. You may be familiar with some of these works, like “The Kiss.”

While the works were created by dozens of artists from several countries over five decades of evolving artistic styles, the success of the publicity was in its uniform theme and strong message, all driven by one man – Adriano Ramos Pinto.

Today, edited versions of these labels now appear on select Port and Douro wines in certain markets.  In the U.S., Ramos Pinto labels remain traditional, but one can imagine that a revival of the original, uncut images may seduce a whole new generation of potential buyers here not only to the Ramos Pinto brand, but to the whole category of Port.  After all, wasn’t clever labeling part of  How Wine Became Modern in the 20th century?

The wines of Ramos Pinto are distributed by Maison Marques & Domaines.


[1] Wine of Adam, Grapes of Eve:  Women in the Art of Publicity.  Adriano Ramos Pinto, Vinhos S.A.