Friday, 18 May 2012

Wines aimed at women “short on flavour”

Bloomberg’s wine and spirits columnist Elin McCoy has slammed wines aimed at women as “long on legs, but short on flavour.” As reported on, sampling a selection of wines designed with women in mind blind, McCoy described the majority as tasting like “neutered commercial plonk.” 
“Only three wines stood out as barely acceptable chilled plastic cup party fare: 2011 Skinnygirl White, 2011 Skinnygirl Rose, and 2011 Be. Fresh Chardonnay,” she said. “For the US$10-15 that most of these cutsey bottlings go for, drinkers seeking an emotional connection with what they swill in their glass could have real wine made by real people – think Rieslings, Proseccos, Rosés, Beaujolais, Argentinean Torrontés and Malbecs,” she added. 
According to wine brand marketers, women pick wine to match moods, not foods. They also apparently crave an easy going, fruit forward flavor profile with an edge of sweetness. McCoy believes many of the female-targeted wine brands are getting it drastically wrong. “Aren’t Canadian winemaker Strut’s labels, featuring photos of long, shapely, perfect legs emerging from short skirts a guy fantasy?” she questions. 
Women account for nearly 60% of wine consumers in the US, according to the Beverage Information Group’s 2011 Wine Handbook. Hence the recent trend for start up wine brands targeted specifically at women, with most targeting women aged 21 to 34. Australian-based global wine giant Treasury Wine Estates recently launched four wines under the “Be.” label: Flirty, a pink Moscato; Bright, a Pinot Grigio; Fresh, an unoaked Chardonnay; and Radiant, a Riesling. 

TWE’s website describes the Pinot Grigio drinker’s mood somewhat patronisingly: “Your sunny disposition sets your soundtrack to the soothing sounds of a steel drum band as you flip flop through fabulousness.” 
In February, three low-calorie California wines from Beam Global Spirits & Wine Inc. hit US shelves under the Skinnygirl brand; the low-calorie cocktail brand made famous by American reality TV star Bethenny Frankel. A five-ounce glass of any of the Skinnygirl wines, which include a Syrah blend, a Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend and a Grenache/Syrah rosé, contains 100 calories, as opposed to the average 110-125 calories.
Mary Ann Vangrin, creator of Middle Sister, a wine brand with over 115,000 fans on Facebook, told McCoy that women look for wines that offer an emotional connection. “Women don’t want a wine that bites back. They like ripe, fruit-forward wines without a lot of tannin and oak,” she said. 
The 10-strong Middle Sister range has personality profile names like Drama Queen Pinot Grigio, Smarty Pants Chardonnay and the best-selling Rebel Red blend.  All, according to McCoy, share a “flavor-phobic house style.” Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits meanwhile, which brought Yellow Tail to the US, has launched its own female friendly wine; Flirt, a Syrah, Zinfandel and Tempranillo blend.

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