It’s not often that you find yourself involved in the news. So when you do, it always makes you take a step back. This is exactly what my colleagues and I at the Wine School are going through right now.
After weeks of small news items being published about it around the country, Wine Spectator Online ran the following story last week:
“Aggressive trademark disputes between wineries are nothing new, but this is the first time Unfiltered has seen a Goliath like Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) go after the David-esque Wine School of Philadelphia. WWE recently delivered a cease and desist letter to the school after becoming aware of its popular “Sommelier Smackdown” series of events, in which instructors and local wine professionals compete to create the most crowd-pleasing wine and food matches. The WWE claims that the school has infringed on its copyright of the term 'smackdown.' Wine School of Philadelphia founder Keith Wallace told Unfiltered, 'Every intellectual lawyer worth their salt has told me that this is bogus, and the WWE doesn’t have a leg to stand on,' adding that the school plans to counter-file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in an attempt to have WWE’s trademark on the phrase cancelled. Additionally, the fracas has inspired Wallace to add a 'Burgundy Cage Match' to the school’s roster of events. Unfiltered can only assume that McMahon and the WWE are still bitter about being forced to abandon its former WWF identity when the World Wildlife Fund came calling. As our mother would have told us, ‘Pick on someone your own size!’”
As Director of Wine Education at the Wine School, one of my duties is booking competitors for the Sommelier Smackdowns and, often, competing in them. How food-and-wine pairing competitions impede in any way with the WWE’s ability to do any part of its entertaining is beyond me, but one thing is certain: All of this has raised the stakes for future Smackdowns. Which, in all honestly, I’m thrilled about. As one of McMahon’s pro wrestlers might say, Bring it on!
And for the record, as I train for the Burgundy Cage Match mentioned above, I’ll be sipping the Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune Premier Cru du Chateau 2006, an excellent wine and an excellent value. (And the 2007 just received a lovely review and 90 points in the Wine Spectator Insider.)