User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Monday Manifestos
In Clothing Or Wine, Here Come The Women

By Charles Olken

Consider this headline: “Men's clothing for women growing as the next Bay Area fashion trend.”

Now apply it to wine. I say apply it to wine because I really don’t know much about the clothing business, but I do know a thing or two about wine, and, despite arguments that there is a “women’s palate” that is somehow different from men’s, I rather look askance at the notion that women are somehow less able to stomach a full-bodied wine.

What I think instead is that women make wine and women like wine based on their own unique palatal preferences, and that those palatal preferences grow experientially just as men’s palates grow. Was my palate gender-confused when I used to like softer, rounder wines whose slurpy natures made them so easy to gulp down? Is my wife now spot on because she likes slurpy wines and really does not want me to bring a young, tight red to the table to accompany her standing rib roast or her crown rack of lamb? The fact is that Mrs. Olken tastes several thousand fewer wines per year than I do, and I would argue that her preference for older reds is based on accessibility, not some geeky potential that I read into wines whose tannins I must filter out with my mustache.

To be sure, I doubt that Mrs. Olken will be running out for her fill of men’s clothing. But, I don’t really care so long as what she wears, and what she buys for me, fits and looks good. I will admit that she looks a helluva lot better in her clothes than I do in mine—but that is a story for another time.

When I look at the wines crafted by Helen Turley and Heidi Barrett and Carol Shelton and Merry Edwards, there is nothing uniquely “feminine” about what they make. They make wine. They make wine with depth, balance, character, adherence to varietal norms. Indeed, they make wine very well.

I was amused by the clothing article because it suggested that there were not enough man-looking clothes tailored for women, and I guess I would have no grounds to disagree. But in wine, my sense is that wines are not necessarily tailored for female palates but for palates that have certain bases for preference, and almost all of those bases are experiential, not gender-driven.

My headline says: “Here come the women”. I take it back. It should have read. The women in wine are here with us-—thank goodness.


The CGCW Experience - Take the Tour

Meet the New CGCW

For thirty-five years, Connoisseurs’ Guide has been the authoritative voice of the California wine consumer. With readers in all fifty states and twenty foreign countries, the Guide is valued by wine lovers everywhere for its honesty and for it strong adherence to the principles of transparency, unbiased, hard-hitting opinions. Now, it is becoming the California winelover’s most powerful online voice as well. And, our new features provide an unmatched array of advice and information for aficionados of every stripe.


Being A Chick That Wears Ties....
by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:1/28/2013 5:33:37 PM

Seems like this bit was made for me! I would never read a fashion article in the paper but I have to agree, not enough men's type clothing, you know the stuff that doesn't scoop, have and A or V Line...whatever those are, and isn't designed to lift or sculpt anything. Now I could be wrong but I've not seen a pair of men's jeans that lift the booty...or other stuff and I'm not at all down with having my bits squished and stuffed...I want comfortable and unfussy, that often means I am shopping in the dude's department. But I might just be a freak that way...and on "girlie wines" I'm with you Sir Charles, there is no one size fits all department based on curves, innies or outies as it were. 


I am always faced with some caveman in the shop telling me he needs me to pick out "Wines for the ladies" with an elbow nudge and an added, "You know, that sweet stuff that women like" and I'm sorry, that might be what YOUR woman likes but not all, hell not even most of us do. Drives me crazy that. My favorite is that those are the guys that will grab a bottle of sweet-ass Opolo Zin for their manly drink...whatever dude. I can say that in our shop the big red wine tastings bring out just as many, if not more, females as males and my boss is constantly floored by the tiny little ladies that adore monster Zinfandels.


I've hated sweet stuff, birth, so sweeter wines were a no go from the start. I also have no love for rich foods and things like braised foods for their heavy feeling and soft texture. No big shock that I like super racy wines with tart fruit and high acid and I'm pretty sure my girlie parts have nothing to do with it. Thanks for this Sir Charles, I appreciate you weighing in on this.

Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.