Stereotypes Associated with Women and Wine
What comes to your mind when you think of women and wine?
Maybe you contemplate the wine moms at the park, who say they would not survive without their beverage of choice. Maybe you believe that wine is a woman’s drink–or that specific wines like rosé are undoubtedly girly. If you have associated with the wine world yourself, you might be used to characterizing wine by its feminine or masculine traits. If you’ve read our previous articles about the history of women and wine, you realize that the world has come a long way. You can observe that women relish their wine drinks, public alcoholic beverages, and public drinking.
However, there is a stigma and stereotypes that still prevail. Today, we’re going through the most common stereotypes associated with wine and women. Which stereotype have you heard the most? Wine is a woman’s drink. Beer is a man’s drink Depending on the place you belong from (and chances are if you’re reading this, you know this is not true!), you might think wine is a girly drink: especially, with some specific types of wine.
Why prohibition changed alcohol marketing strategies
There is a reason for this particular stereotype. According to Mallory O’Meara, the author of Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol, men used to love bright, sugary, fruity drinks before prohibition–but it primarily designed the bars for male customers. After prohibition, women went to bars and drank with the men. Marketers wanted a way to still segregate the sexes. “If men cannot keep women out of the bars, they’ll try to keep them out of the drinks themselves,” O’Meara explained.
After prohibition, women’s cocktail of choice was the Old Fashioned–but gradually, the marketing strategies changed. Through frequent marketing strategies, men were told they liked strong drinks, such as whiskey, beer, and hearty red wines. On the other hand, they marketed women’s light and flowery beverages like cosmopolitans and sweet white wine. Since then, not much has changed, although there is no particular science to back this up. It is simply a traditional marketing strategy.
You likely follow, know, or are a mother who loves her wine. And you have likely endured pushback: should moms be drinking? We never associate similar thoughts with a dad coming home from work and grabbing a beer. Maybe he goes to bed with a nightcap. However, when moms talk about liking to wind down their tiring day with a glass of wine, we discuss whether it is ethical for them to take a sip.
Should moms drink? We have no evidence that mothers drink more (or less) than fathers, but we definitely hear about this stereotype more.
There is still a stigma around women, especially mothers, drinking. It is something that men and fathers do not experience. This stereotype is substantiated because women often talk about drinking wine–but if you listen closely, they often speak about something beyond the beverage. They actually use their love of wine to help them cope with various feminine issues, such as childcare, sexism, and the wage gap. Hence, society must realize that if women talk about wine, it does not imply that they have got a drinking problem.
Women in the Wine Industry
The wine industry is still heavily dominated by men. According to a study conducted in 2021, only 5% of wineries in California and Oregon are owned by women. Women historically were granted only limited rights for property ownership. It was not until the 1960s that women started pursuing winemaking careers. In 1987, Cathy Corison opened a winery in Napa Valley, and people told her she would never succeed. Thanks to these past women in the industry, it has become much more convenient for women to get into the winemaking business today. Nonetheless, it still is very much a man’s club.
Masculine vs. Feminine Wines
Sommeliers, especially those trained in the Old Word, describe wines as masculine or feminine beverages. Although we have moved away from classifying wines in this manner, it goes back to many deeply-rooted stereotypes. Masculine wines are typically robust and have more body, alcohol, tannin, and intense flavours.
“A masculine wine is more expressive in its opulence and bold individuality.”
On the other hand, a feminine wine is considered gentle with smooth, gentle, and delicate flavours. Although the definition of feminine or masculine varies in different societies, these terms are not only offensive but are also not specific. Therefore, you can definitely witness more winemakers using gender-neutral and specific terms to describe their wines these days. Besides these common stereotypes, there are many more stereotypes when it comes to women and wine. Which one did we miss in this article?
This Day in Wine History
January 17, 1920: The prohibition Era in the USA started. Before prohibition, drinking was often a man’s pastime even though women were legally allowed to drink, and bars were mainly associated with male customers.
December 5, 1933: The prohibition Era ended. After prohibition, they forced the bars to allow women into bars. Marketing changed to divide drinks into men’s and women’s beverages. Bar owners would organize ladies’ nights to entice more women out and entice men into visiting their bar so that they could meet the women.
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- How gender stereotypes mix with alcohol. Podcast. Accessed: May 18, 2022 https://think.kera.org/2021/12/07/how-gender-stereotypes-mix-with-alcohol/
- Two Years Later, White Girl Rosé Is Still Here. Because of Instagram. Accessed: May 18, 2022. https://vinepair.com/articles/white-girl-rose-instagram/
- Women in Wine History. Accessed: May 18, 2022. https://www.guildsomm.com/public_content/features/articles/b/tanya-morning-star-darling/posts/women-in-wine-history
- Wine: Masculine or Feminine? Accesses: May 18, 2022 https://napavalleyregister.com/wine/columnists/allen-balik/wine-masculine-or-feminine/article_4445e1ac-7975-11e3-ad35-0019bb2963f4.html