CAN there be something masculine or feminine in a wine?
It’s a conceit that has haunted professional wine tasting notes for decades. But once you ponder the notion, it’s quite odd.
And recently, some in the trade are casting a worrisome glance back at the tired dichotomies used to hastily differentiate wines.
Consider this quote from a recent Wine Enthusiast article about female winemakers:
“When at its best, wine tends to express feminine qualities, like sexy textures, soft tannins, voluptuous fruit and delicate floral aromas.”
Dujac winemaker Jeremy Seysses adopts a similar paradigm in describing how to tell a Clos de la Roche from a Clos Saint Denis:
“‘Aromatically, they are both unmistakably Morey-Saint-Denis.’ Jeremy began. ‘That is, there are suggestions of nutmeg and cinnamon to go with the cherry-raspberry-strawberry. But texturally, they are quite different. Clos de la Roche (…) has more structure, more tannin, and is generally more masculine. There is a minerally graphite aspect I don’t find in Clos Saint-Denis.’
‘In the Clos Saint-Denis (…) the silky tannins are first and foremost. There is intensity without weight. Texturally there are similarities with Chambolle, but in character our Clos Saint-Denis is quite different. There are aromatic fireworks to be found and a peacock’s tail as the wine opens out in the mouth that I find most appealing.’”
Let’s dissect this statement.
Quite obviously, tannins are the critical difference for Seysses. So many gender stereotypes hinge on physical musculature and mass; delicacy must equal femininity, and muscular structure (read: body, higher alcohol content) must equal masculinity.
Seysses regards ‘intensity without weight’ as feminine. ‘Silky’ texture suddenly comes into play with feminine wine; supple, caressing mouthfeels — devoid of coarse tannin — engender femininity.
These two stereotypes underpin the bulk of our attributions of gender to wine. But take an even closer look, and something much stranger lies lurking: a precise set of gendered aromas.
Which aromas are regarded as masculine? Graphite. Tobacco. Leather. Earth. “Dark fruits”.
Which are feminine? (Click to Read more)