February 21, 2008

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His & hers bottles
Pinot gris: strong enough for a man…
By Tim Protzman letters@hippopress.com

In the olden days (last week and before) oenologists used to consider wines in terms of gender.

Burgundy was female and Bordeaux was male. And a Margaux was a little of both. Those terms have faded and been replaced by more egalitarian thought, just as “Alderman” and “Chairman” have been supplanted by “Alderwoman” and Chairperson.” But some sexism in wine remains. Just as in real life.

Donna the longshorewoman may be female, but she’s just as strong and brawny as her male counterparts or she wouldn’t hold the job. Perhaps we’ve moved beyond stereotypes in people. Come to think of it maybe humans have outgrown the masculine/feminine labels and can now fathom the idea that everyone is a mix of the masculine/feminine to some degree. Curt is one example. He snowmobiles, yet he’s terrified of spiders, nearly swooning at the sight of them. Glori’s aunt raises prize Candy Apple Grandiflora roses, but she chews tobacco. So maybe here in post-gender-labeling America, it’s no longer people who are masculine or feminine, but the traits themselves? It’s all very French. They give all their nouns a gender. Vin (wine) is masculine and so is cognac. But school (ecole) and cat (chat) are feminine.

My curiosity about wine and gender started last week. I saw this show called Cashmere Mafia about four high-powered executive women. I didn’t flip past it because Lucy Liu was on it. At the end of the show, the four women shared a bottle of chardonnay, traditionally a feminine wine, but it shouldn’t be because most have oak and get lots and lots of sun on their little green skins. Then on this show with Sally Field, who was having dinner with Danny Glover, they shared a bottle of unidentified South African wine. I’m sure it was a pinotage, a cross between pinot noir and cinsault, which is supposed to be masculine but has more female trait qualities.

So what makes a wine perfect for a gathering of airline pilots or firefighters? Or for a gathering of guys?

California:
• Cafaro Cabernet Sauvignon ($15.99 half bottle). Cabernets aren’t masculine? Not this one, especially in the 375 ml format bottle. It’s doll-sized for a tea party. The wine is silky with a light rosewater bouquet, not the heavy incense laden aroma of bold, mature cabernets that come on like an over-cologned used car dealer. Great gift for most women, and men who bake.
• Clos Pegase Carneros Chardonnay ($20.99). Shy? Demure? Not this wine. It’s thin and spunky like a 119-pound-weight class wrestler who, while small, can still lift a commercial washing machine over his head. Strong citrus backbone, tart but pleasant finish. Good gift for men and women, especially women who play sports other than tennis.
• Martin & Weyrich Central Coast Pinot Grigio ($12.99). While usually a drink for thirtysomething women, this is hearty with some testosterone flavor notes. Deeply fruity with a sweet streak and a minerally, herbaceous finish. This wine’s perfect for after cutting the grass and makes a nice present for the lady who owns a nail gun and is not afraid to use it.
New Zealand (The metro-sexual version of Australia).
• Seresin Estate Leah Vineyards Pinot Noir ($29.99). Usually pinots are automatically female, but this one has the tannic backbone of a sexed-up male Tasmanian Devil. Nice fruit with the typical ammonia bouquet of a pinot that belies the slight sweetness that a French or Californian pinot would never have. Nice wine, though, once you get past the contradictions. Great for anyone who’s ever worn an article of clothing usually seen on the opposite sex.
South Africa (it’s just like France except the wild animals, not the people, are sometime rude).
• Charles Back Fairview Goat Roti ($18.99). There’s a billy goat on the label so this wine’s got to be male, right? Not this sulky little steamer. Drinking this wine reminds me of those old WWII pin-up pictures of Rita Hayworth. Try its little brother, Goats do Roam, $8.99. For people of all genders who collect things and occasionally spit on the sidewalk.
Australia (Calm, friendly and laid back, just like its symbol, the koala, until you piss them off and get 20 lbs. of eucalyptus-breathed fury coming at you. Take a look at their claws, mate!)
• Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz ($23.99) From the rough and tumble comes a gentle, elegant wine. Fruity, spicy with hints of sun-drenched days and dry earth. Everything said male, male, male until the first sip. Not a fashion model but a sparkling girl next door type. Great for people who drink tea, male or female.
France (It’s like Massachusetts, except they drive better and have lower taxes. Note: All Champagne is feminine with the exception of Pol Roger and Krug. ):
• Chateaux Larose Trintaudon Haut Medoc ($13.99) A steal for a taste of Bordeaux that won’t leave you nauseated. Dry, pointed with tightly closed fruit and an uncanny ability to pair with chocolate. Violets, raisins and newly mown hay greet the nose. Perfect gift for older people who like to talk about their ailments. Delicious, but has no sense of humor.


2/7/2008 Friends in spam

1/31/2008 Warm up the wine
1/24/2008 A drink to them
1/17/2008 Stalking the barking dingo
1/10/2008 Wishes and predictions
1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly
12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
11/8/2007 Candy Corn hangover
11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
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1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
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06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
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05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
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04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
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03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
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03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
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01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
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A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
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Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce