Decanter.com, the online version of the British wine magazine, Decanter, announced today that Marks and Spencer launched a new brand of Port, specifically targeted to young, female wine drinkers. “The new style”, writes editor-in-chief Adam Lechmere, “is ‘bright pink in colour with fresh fruit aromas.’ The port has the same sugar levels as ruby ports, while acidity levels are ‘finely tuned to ensure the right balance.’”
After tasting the wines, Decanter editor Guy Woodward is very skeptic about the quality and opportunity of such a wine: “While I applaud M&S’s effort to take port out to a wider audience, I’m not convinced this is the way to do it. This doesn’t taste like any port I know – it’s more like vodka and cranberry juice. I suspect they’re trying to jump on the rosé bandwagon. The nose smells like a rosé but then you get this whack of confected fruits and alcohol on the palate.”
Marks and Spencer would not be the first company trying to surf on the wave of the new consuming trends and new consumers. Women are a very important potential target: they buy 70% of the wines sold in UK supermarkets and 80% sold in US supermarkets. It seems like a good idea to specifically design wines for them. Unfortunately women are resisting this trend. Some do not recognize themselves or their tastes in those light and unsophisticated wines, as Margreet O’Sullivan says on the Decanter site: “I love a full bodied, concentrated, complex wine with a well integrated, but noticeable tannic structure – and above all – length!”
Why is that? First, biologically, women are recognized as having a finer palate than men. Then, if their wine culture is not as large or sophisticated as men’s wine culture, women usually know what they like: a good wine pairing well with their meal or the occasion of the meal, i.e. an evening with friends, a formal dinner, a special occasion, a barbecue or a picnic. Last but not least, they choose their wine for the pleasure of drinking and sharing a good time, more than for impressing their guests (or their hosts).
Wines specifically designed for women are made by people who think they know what women like, when, most of the time, women will buy in the spurr of the moment. Our advice to winemakers and producers: create a great wine, without bothering to craft for men or women. Design it for our pleasure!