Wine marketing is a funny line of work. A recent Vinexpo study showed that women despise “women wines” – i.e. “pink” or “sweet wines” – specifically designed for them and favor red wines. On the other end, Michelle Locke from the San Francisco Chronicle cites Nelson Barber, an associate professor of hospitality management at Texas Tech University who has studied gender differences in marketing wine, who said: “”As a general rule, guys get together, they don’t want to be seen with a glass of wine”.
Locke is obviously talking about American men. European men don’t feel embarrassed to be shown a glass of wine in hand – quite the opposite. It is a flattering and glamorous image of a refined and elegant manhood. What’s wrong in drinking wine for an American man? Men drink more beer than wine – true. Is it because beer is a symbol of masculinity in the US?
We are touching now the delicate subject of cultural differences. In Europe, beer is not connected with any social values, such as elegance, culture or refinement. On the contrary, it is a “popular” drink – one for picnic or for the “café” before going home. It’s not young or trendy: it’s the drink of the middle-aged, very medium income male. Wine carries historical values going over gender differences: it is the drink of the well educated and refined people.
The wine drinking America doesn’t have yet this kind of cultural references. Wine is more recent in consumption history and doesn’t carry the same image of quality and style for men. But I’m sure men will come to recognize the values of wine as they recognize the importance of… cosmetics and colognes!