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Baby Duck: Numero uno vino

The Story


For a generation raised on Kool-aid and pop, Baby Duck represents a non-threatening entry into the sophisticated world of wine drinking. This sweet, pink, fizzy wine is modeled after Mateus, the world's most popular wine. Like the spritzers and wine coolers that would follow, Baby Duck eased the transition from soft drinks to alcohol for many new drinkers. In this CBC Radio clip, correspondent David James reports from London, England where Canadian Baby Duck is launched into its first international test market.

Medium: Radio
Program: The Food Show
Broadcast Date: Nov. 19, 1978
Guest(s): Paul Larocque
Reporter: David James
Duration: 5:55
Photo: Julie Carter

Did You know?


• Introduced in 1971, Andrés Baby Duck became the most popular wine in Canada, selling eight million bottles a year at its peak in 1973. As of late 2003, it was still widely available across Canada. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario sells a 1.5 litre bottle for $11.95 and recommends serving it "chilled, with animal crackers."
• Baby Duck was officially launched in London in October 1979. At the posh launch party, Canada's high commissioner to Britain, Paul Martin, raised a crystal glass of Baby Duck.

• Part of the accessibility of Baby Duck lay in its pronounceable name. In the early 1970s other products competing for the same market included Baby Bear, Baby Deer, Little White Duck, Fuddle Duck, Luv-a-Duck, Pink Flamingo, Pussycat and Gimli Goose.
• In 1980, Andrés marketers downgraded Baby Duck from a wine to a "refreshment beverage" in an attempt to distinguish it from table wine.

• In a 1982 Saturday Night article, writer Winston Collins attempted to find the source of the name Baby Duck. His results were inconclusive. Cold Duck was a popular product that combined still red wine with sparkling white. Baby Duck is a lower-alcohol version of Cold Duck.
• The original Cold Duck was a play on Das Caulde Ende -- the cold end -- a European tradition of emptying glasses into a bowl at the end of a party. The resulting mixture would then be sampled.

• Introduced in early 1942, Mateus was formulated specifically for export from Portugal. It became the most popular wine in the world, selling 40 million bottles in 1977. It is still available and in 2002 underwent a re-launch to appeal to younger drinkers.
• Mateus is the preferred wine of Saddam Hussein, according to the Detroit Free Press.

• Cork vs. screwcap has long been debated, with screwcap generally considered the domain of lower-quality wines. In September 2003, Ontario estate winery Henry of Pelham took a chance by bottling one quarter of their 2002 Chardonnay under screwcap. Beginning in December 2003, the wine will be sold with a neck label trying to convince consumers that screwcaps are the way of the future.
• One in twelve wines is adversely affected by a tainted cork.

• In the 1970s, buying "wine-in-a box" was a popular fad. According to a CBS news online report, one in five glasses of wine consumed in America in 2003 comes from a box.
• In 1983 San Gabriel introduced a new player in the alternative wine packaging game -- cardboard cask wine. Saturday Report examines the implications of sharing a romantic dinner and getting to know your date over a box of wine.


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