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10.12.2005

The Gender Gap vs. The Consumer Gap In Wine

wine_women_and_horses.sm.jpgThere are an incredible number of individual wines and entire new wine brands hitting the market right now expressly targeted at women. There's even a new wine magazine devoted to women wine drinkers. The real question, though, is WHY? Is there really so much of a gender gap in wine drinking and wine connoisseurship that we need special marketing efforts?

These are the questions that Michael Steinberger raises in his latest column for Slate Magazine, and he does a great job marching through questions that I've been musing over for some time, but never really fully articulated. What is it with all these women focused wines and wine publications? I understand niche marketing (though I don't understand why all these people focused on the female niche seem to think it requires them to dumb down the wine or the writing), but most of these people are not just claiming that they're addressing a specific set of consumers. No, they're telling us that they're righting decades, even centuries of inequality and bias in the wine world. As Steinberger so aptly points out, that may have been true 60 years ago, but that's a pretty specious argument at the present, especially given the fact that the majority of wine consumers in the US and the UK are women. Not to mention people like Jancis Robinson and Heidi Peterson Barrett, etc. etc.

You get the point. But read the article. Steinberger does a good job of jabbing a sharp stick at the notion that there are problems for women in the wine world, and instead asking whether we might just have problems for consumers in the wine world.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.