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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive
March 29, 2006
Men and Wine Do Not Mix

Apparently California winemakers – sorry, vintners – are becoming concerned that very manly men (this column will not use the word that rhymes with “nacho”) do not find their product to be very manly.


That might be because, oh, let me see, it’s not. Wine? Wine is like a doily, which is simply not a respectable item on which to place your beverage – even if you accept the premise that condensation rings on the table are worth worrying about.


Wine is like the word “splendid.” It is a word no man should ever say – not that I am that enslaved by the rules of manliness. I express emotion and junk. I am very bad at car repair. I cook. But I’m enough of a real man to know that if I ever allowed the word “splendid” to pass through my lips, it would be a slippery slope to humming show tunes and watching Lifetime movies.


That’s what wine is like. It’s just not something men should associate themselves with.


But that’s not what the vintners want to hear. Ray’s Station Vineyards of Sonoma County, worried that women aren’t buying enough wine to keep their bare toes awash in grape squirtings, is trying to broaden its market by introducing Hearty Red Wines for Men.


Hearty wine?


Chunky Soup – that’s hearty. Wine? Wine is elegant. No man wants anything elegant. (See: Use of the word “splendid.”)


Ah, Ray’s Station has the answer for that. It is going to put a stallion on the bottle! That’ll make it seem masculine! That’s a male horse, after all. Male in a Fabio sort of way, but cut these wine people some slack. They don’t know very much about men, so I suppose they could have done worse than a stallion. I would have expected something more like a show dog. In that respect, they exceeded my expectations.


Then again, why not put a race car on the wine? Or better yet, put your wine on a race car. That’s what a rival Sonoma County winery by the name of Ravenswood has done – sponsoring the No. 27 Brewco Motorsports car in this year’s NASCAR Busch Series.


Ravenswood makes white zinfandel – a lovely wine. A splendid, elegant wine. Sense the aroma. Note how it tickles your palate and dances on your tongue like Rudolph Nureyev in Swan Lake. See it roar around the track at Daytona!


You’re not buying this? Me neither. But Brian Hilliard, who is in charge of marketing for Ray’s Station, has made up his mind that vee vill drink it and vee vill like it! Hilliard tells the Associated Press: “These guys, they're married; they've got a couple of kids. Wine is part of their lives, but it's not integrated in a way that they really force themselves to be knowledgeable."


I’m sure being knowledgeable about wine is very important in the world of Mr. Hilliard and his friends. I’m sure they read labels and discuss fermentation trends endlessly, or at least until 6:30 when it’s time to leave for French cuisine and Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.


But real men do not trouble themselves with such nuance. I have no idea what’s in my Diet Coke, beyond brown stuff and bubbles. I am not knowledgeable about what anyone put in my fried chicken, my spaghetti sauce or my sausage. As long as it’s not anthrax, I don’t need the details.


And this is the problem here. Trying to make men like wine is like trying to make cats like vacuum cleaners. Wine is a handbag. Wine is poetry. It’s quilting, scrapbooking and getting a manicure. Putting a bottle of wine on a race car is only going to get the driver sideswiped coming into Lap 4. Putting a stallion on a bottle of wine is only going to make a man think to himself, “She ran calling Wildfire!”


And he won’t like that, so he’ll put on some Tom Petty.


If these vintners were smart, they would understand that there are men who will drink their wine. And they aren’t watching NASCAR. They’re out right now at the poetry reading at the Ladies’ Literary Society, and all you need to do to sell them is make a bottle that fits in their handbags.


As for the rest of us, don’t bother. We’re not interested, not even if you put stuff about hunting in your ads. In fact, Dick Cheney knows where you live.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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