Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wine with a Gender?

In case you haven't noticed, there has been a recent onslaught of wines marketed to consumers on the basis of gender. Grape lovers no longer have to settle for nonpartisan wines when the shelves are stocked with bottles of White Lie, The Mad Housewife and Ray’s Station “Hearty Red Wines for Men”.

Women seem to be at an advantage here as most marketers, it seems, are working under the assumption that wine in general appeals to men. Arguably the most intriguing of the wines marketed specifically to women is White Lie from Beringer Blass. The premise of this “early season Chardonnay” is almost as insulting as its marketing. The labels and corks for White Lie highlight “little white lies” such as “but it was on sale”, “my hair is naturally this color” and “I never eat dessert”. Nothing like playing on women’s neuroses to get us to plunk down $10 on what I can only imagine is a tasteless excuse for Chardonnay. White Lie even has less alcohol and fewer calories for those diet fanatics that simply can’t hold their alcohol. Brilliant!

On their website, Rainier Wine, producers of The Mad Housewife, lets women know that they “get it” by posting this thought provoking paragraph: “Rainier Wine recognizes that wine should never intimidate, make you think too hard, or create a new line item in your budget”. I would critique this sentiment but I wouldn’t even know where to start.

Before all you men out there start chuckling into your glass of 15% alcohol Zinfandel, realize that you are not safe. Some companies, such as Ravenswood, are simply marketing their wines with tag lines such as “No Wimpy Wines”. Other companies, such as Ray’s Station, were born out of the belief that “red wines are for men”. Ray spares no trick to get you boys to buy into his “bold Cabernet’ and “hearty Merlot”, from galloping stallions on the label to ad campaigns depicting men doing manly things like fishing and hunting.

What is the point of all this? Perhaps I am a little inebriated from the glass of full-alcohol Chateau Neutral Cabernet I just threw back, but I think we would all be happy with a well-made, great tasting wine to sit back and sip without having to worry whether it has too many calories or is macho enough.


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