Across the whole planet winemakers, wine writers, wine bars and restaurants are scrambling to re-gender their wines. Well, nearly the whole planet! I only know this because of two articles I read recently. You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about, but as a wine collector I have got used to wines being described in catalogues, wine lists, and on bottle labels as masculine or feminine. These two words are metaphors for, or added to wines described as powerful and structured or light, perfumed and supple …….. you can probably work out which is which.
As a classic example in France it is generally accepted that Volnay is a feminine wine and Pommard is a masculine wine, both are neighbouring villages in Burgundy, both are made from the Pinot Noir grape. Their difference in characteristics arises mostly from the terroir differences between the two areas of viticulture from each village. Now though it seems that using such metaphors are completely unacceptable and that we must either stop using them as it “can cause offence” or be prepared to include descriptions for other genders or gender fluidity. Here’s one of the articles I read: Male, Female or Non-Binary, who’s gendering wine, with the following opening paragraph:
“These two wines are what I call Adam and Eve – masculine and feminine.” I clearly remember a charming old lady called Jeanne Ferret talking about two examples of Pouilly-Fuissé from very different soils of her estate. It was the very early 1980s and she was a pioneer in bottling wines from individual parcels of that appellation, intent on explaining how each had a character that was influenced by the limestone, granite or clay on which the grapes were grown.”Somehow, I doubt that an English-language ‘wine dictionary’ would be saying this kind of thing today but, as I learned from a recent panel discussion in Punchdrink.com, ‘Nonbinary’ is apparently a term now used by a wine bar in New York to describe wines that are neither red nor white.”
Personally I somehow doubt that a French wine dictionary would change their use of the male-female metaphors …… but you never know! Anyway do read the articles from the links above and make up your own mind. Let me know what you think.