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Comet Inspires Wine Label

November 1, 1985

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ There are Halley’s comet T-shirts, cruises, maps and poetry. And now there’s a wine meant to be sipped while comet-gazing.

The Almaden winery has dedicated its Gamay Beaujolais Nouveau to the comet, commissioning California artist George Sumner to paint the work that graces the bottle’s label.

The 20,000 cases of Beaujolais Nouveau, part of the Charles Lefranc Cellars premium wine division, will go on sale Monday at $3.99 a bottle.

Sumner’s work rendered the comet as a wispy, diaphanous voyager in the immensity of wine-purple space, rounding a sun speared by two crossed rays, before a background of the Milky Way.

Halley’s comet, which made its last visit in 1910, should be visible to viewers using binoculars by late November and to the naked eye by late December. It will come closest to earth April 11, but binoculars should help keep it in sight until August.

The wine behind the label is something of a slow-speed alcoholic comet, a light, fruity, uncomplicated red that appears at the same time every year, mid-November, and is meant to be gulped in its youth.

The comet has inspired dozens of items: T-shirts, a movie, telescopes, medallions, key chains, poetry, comet pills, comet cruises to the South Pacific, and maps.

Not everyone is amused by the great marketing race.

″There’s no official Halley’s comet anything,″ said Andrew Franknoi, executive officer of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. ″Halley’s comet is the property of the human race.″

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