Friday, April 07, 2006

Real Men Drink Merlot With Their Quiche

A winery in California called Ray's Station is pitching its new Merlots as "Hearty Red Wines for Men" -- macho Merlot for the Y-chromosome group, in other words. The winery claims there's an overlooked target group for wine: the backyard barbecuer and NASCAR fan. "These guys, they're married, they've got a couple of kids," Brian Hilliard, who is the marketing chief for the winery, told the Associated Press. "Wine is part of their lives, but it's not integrated in a way that they really force themselves to be knowledgeable."

Okay, but what I don't understand is this: Is it about a macho label or a macho style of wine? Will wine-shoppers face a decision of what cute (oops, I mean "macho") and catchy label to buy -- one that shows, say, two men toasting each other in the NASCAR bleachers? Maybe there will be seasonal labels: during hunting season we might see a label with a man holding a Merlot bottle out the window of his 1978 Ford pickup with a dead deer roped to the truck's grill. The summer label might be a man holding a glass of Merlot in one hand and a long garden hose in the other: nothing like sipping wine while you water the lawn. How about a Christmas label of a man standing on the roof tacking up Christmas lights with a bottle of his macho Merlot close by?

Okay, I'm being persnickity, but I have to say I was pretty offended when last year Beringer tried to bluff women with their "White Lies" Chardonnay -- the wine they claimed had half the calories and less alcohol than typical Chardonnay. Women can't handle any wine with an alcohol over 9%, or so they said. Hmmm. I wonder if the truth was actually that Beringer got stuck with some Chardonnay grapes that got a low brix reading and they couldn't ferment it past 9.8%. No problem: Clever marketing to the rescue!

If you want to get past the cutsie labels and want a true "macho" Merlot, then turn to Washington's Merlots -- especially Walla Walla's. The state has been making hearty, full-bodied Merlots for nearly 30 years. Is the "Macho Merlot" from California going to equal Washington's big Merlots, or will it be just another light, jammy "fighting varietal" priced at $8-$12?

Meanwhile the song "Macho Man" keeps going through my mind. Wouldn't a picture of the Village People make a great label?

Macho, macho Merlot
I want to drink, a macho Merlot
Macho, macho Merlot
I've got to drink a macho Merlot!


Anonymous said...


Of course real mean drink wine with Quiche. What they DON"T do is drink wine with casseroles.

Anonymous said...

real red hat society ladies don't prepare casseroles either.

Benito said...

I've covered this a bit on my blog, once with the Fess Parker Frontier Red and with the Desolation Flats Rustler's Red. There's lots of different wines on the market out there these days, so what's wrong with a little niche marketing?

There's a particular problem here in the South amongst some men, who enjoy wine in private but refuse to drink it in public. But would they be afraid to order something associated with the rough and tumble old west? And if these guys enjoy the random red blends, maybe they'll move on to Meritage and eventually to Bordeaux, and then to other pursuits.

Don't get me wrong, I chuckle at some of the weirder niche marketing wine bottles, but in the end, these products serve as non-threatening gateway wines for people who didn't grow up around wine or got into it on their own.

Bradley Cooper, Winemaker said...

Benito makes some good points.
More men drinking wine is a good idea. Presently, women make most of the wine purchase decisions in North America. That's okay, but why not be equal?

Catie said...

I agree with both of you about the importance of reaching others. I was having some fun. Last year it was the housewives turn to have labels being pandered to the them.

However, in the midst of all of the gimicy labeling, we seem to forget one very important thing - -what is inside of the bottle?

Are consumers buying inferior to mediocre wine with cute and clever labels?

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