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Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010

Testosterone Sauvignon -- Wines for Men

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Men like wine. Why don't we see it advertised to them?

Watch typical "male" programming. You know, sports, wrestling, action movies, "24," and so on. You don't see wine ads among the deluge of "light" beers, gadgets, and Howie Long and Denis Leary arguing about the finer points of pickup trucks. Heck, they'll advertise a flippin' Snuggie, but not a decent bottle of cabernet.

Men are a stable wine buying population. We drink the stuff. We write songs about it (heck, even Axl Rose did). The majority of winemakers are men. Heck, the manliest writers -- think Hemingway, London, Kerouac, et al -- feature it prominently. Aside from the pursuit of "yabyum" and enlightenment, a close third in "The Dharma Bums" was finding a jug of wine and well…hanging out. Basically, the same things we still do…

Perhaps winemakers think that men aren't a good target demographic. Perhaps they think that other avenues are more effective -- I'm not sure. Even with females making up the larger percentage of wine drinkers (52.5 to 47.5%), that still leaves about a billion bottles consumed by men each year in the U.S. alone, and they haven't even surveyed me yet. In my opinion, the first winemaker to catch on to the fact that there are more than Neanderthals watching "everyday man" shows will make a mint. Maybe a couple of winemakers are wising up. I heard an ad for Dancing Bull Wines on "Mike and Mike in the Morning" on ESPN Radio, so who knows?

Regardless, as a rule, men are usually more clueless than women in a wine store. Why? Genetics. We're preprogrammed to a) be required to be the authority and b) never ask for direction. (That thud you just heard was the Sweet Partner in Crime hitting me over the head with an Introduction to Sociology textbook.)

So, you let a typical man loose in a wine store, and what happens? A little aimless wandering, perhaps the "what have I heard of before" thought process -- and, eventually, the same thing happens to a man as a woman. Looking at the labels, he'll buy something he thinks looks interesting. Shiny objects and pretty colors. You'll certainly find that approach in the beer aisle. Beers are labeled in a number of different ways, so there's a wine for every occasion. Slowly, wines are coming around to this way of thinking.

I put myself in a mindset of looking at labels and walked the aisles, thinking, "What looks interesting?" Here are a couple that jumped out.

Bohemian Highway 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon -- For the ex-and-present hippies among us. This is a pretty straightforward cab. A cab you could pour and enjoy with a meal, or sit around and Kerouac right out of the bottle. The fairly strong nose is currants and blackberries. The body is big and fruity. Nothing you have to work too hard to wrap your palate around. The finish is straight fruit, almost Zin-ish. Not a lot of tannin to be found, so it would be an excellent party wine. The flavor blends well with anything smoky. $7.

Red Lion 2007 Chardonnay
-- Even more challenging than finding the right marketing for men would be finding a way to market white wine to men. At least red wine has the romance and the better descriptive words on the cards in the aisles. You don't hear a pinot grigio described as "muscular" very often. So, create a label that says, "Hey…you're a big strong dude -- how's a roaring lion done up like an album cover work for you?" The nose is very interesting. I guess you'd call it "tropical," but I got an odd combination -- butter and papaya -- and it worked. Nice melony flavors and a easy finish. A good, flexible food wine. $10.

Charles Smith "The Velvet Devil" 2008 Merlot --
Cool names are always a winner, especially if you throw that name on a white label with big, black, easy-to-read-from-across-an-aisle letters on a white background and a pitchfork prominently displayed.  This is a big hearty wine.  Huge nose of blueberries and violets. It's full bodied with flavors of blueberries and bacon. And that's not a bad thing in the slightest. Long lasting sit-on-your-tongue tannins that are nicely balanced. It's little tart at the end with a long, tannic finish. $10.Will more wineries start trying to cash in on the average guy's desire for directness? Keep an eye on the labels to see...
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