We had another lovely tasting with Swedish Ambrosia, the women’s career network centered around wine tastings. This time there was a glass tasting, and regardless of the documentation at hand, I swear on my life there is a difference to be had by matching the wine with the right glass. Challenge me to a blind tasting, I dare you. At the end of the tasting we tried the Riedel cognac glasses, which according to the sommelier and Riedel Sweden country manager Jane often get written off as “dainty” by macho men. Well, the cognac was a thousand times more pleasant in those fine little glasses, and we ended up in a discussion on the differences of what women and men want out of wine.
The subjects the Ambrosia women were the most interested in were to learn good pairing of food and wine, picking a good value bottle off the list at a restaurant, and how to buy an interesting new wine in the bottle shop, as well as some basic guides for grapes and regions (like Chablis always being chardonnay, and that old world wines often come out stricter and more acidic than their fruity new-world counterparts). Not one mentioned wanting to know the first-growths of Bordeaux, the top Parker-point scoring wines, or the best way to memorize the iconic vintages of the past century. I’m sure most guys are not interested in that either, but somehow (being a wine nerd myself) I see a trend toward more guys liking to use their knowledge to shine or outdo the people they are talking to, and more girls using their knowledge to get maximum enjoyment out of a dinner. Am I wrong? Please comment!
If you see no inequality in the expectations of wine knowledge, I will give you a personal example (from very equal Sweden). When I worked in Biotech, I would invite groups of prominent men (it was 90% men, over 50) out for dinners. Regardless that I made the invitation, picked the restaurant and paid the bill, it was almost inevitable that one of the men in the group took the wine list and decided the wine. Back then, I was not comfortable questioning their expertise – they seemed so confident! Now i know better 🙂
Outside of Sweden, it is worse. I will often ask to be given the wine list in a restaurant. When the waiter comes, I need to remind them that I’m placing the wine order as they will ask the oldest man. When the wine comes out, I need to remind them that I ordered the wine and thus wish to do the tasting. Sometimes they pour a tasting for the man as well, even though I have approved the wine. Geez. If I’m having dinner with someone who really knows their wines, it is fun to be shown something new. But my lord, what is so confusing to some waiters about a young woman knowing her way around the wine list? It’s a topic ripe for discussion. Did you know that women in general have a better nose for wine tasting? That women make the majority of wine purchases? But that a huge majority of widely published wine journalists are men? Which by the way can be a bonus for me, as I am often placed next to the wine maker at press tastings. Clouds with a silver lining…