Is it…a Woman (and man) Thing?
Louisa Hufstader, writing for the Napa Valley Register, gets the prize for Best Line of the Week:
"Men are from Parker, women are from Robinson?"
Hufstader is writing in the context of a story on women in the wine business, which was the topic as a recent event at Copia. In the course of writing her story on this topic, Hufstader brings us around to a salient point made by Elizabeth Thach, Ph.D., a professor of wine business and management at Sonoma State University and Keynote Speaker at the event:
"Genetic differences between the sexes include extra taste buds for most
females, Thach told the group — and that could explain why reviews by
the wine world’s two top critics are often at odds with each other."
The point is that because women have more taste buds, they in turn have more discriminating palates. I’ve seen this claim before and I don’t doubt it for a second. What I’m not sure of is if the extra taste buds allow women to taste more of what’s in the wine of if they just experience an amplified version of what men taste.
From a marketers perspective I rather hope it’s the latter. It just makes things simpler. But as a fan of discriminating palates, I’d rather it be the former, thereby allowing women critics to offer up a fuller description of a wine.
But even in determining this difference, it doesn’t get me exactly where I wean to to be when it comes to reviews of wines, be they from men or women. The state of my taste buds has me much more interested in a wine’s texture than in its flavors. Frankly, the flavor of a wine is much less important to me than either its texture or it aroma.
I wonder if women FEEL the wine more fully than men do? And I don’t mean in an emotional kind of way.
However, on that point, I’ll never forget Milla Handley, the great winemaker at Handley Cellars, explaining passionately to me why women are better winemakers. It comes down to their innate ability to nurture…an ability that men seem to have in far less degree according to Milla. In my experience this is a truism.
Milla argues that great wine is made great through a nurturing approach to its production, just like children must be nurtured as well as guided as they develop and mature into adults. This analogy appeals to me in a number of ways.
But if we must compare the abilities and talents and tendencies of men and women and wine, then I propose we really do it right. I propose a WineOff between Men and Women Winemakers. Five women winemakers and five men winemakers. Each get a ton of grapes from the same vineyard and vintage. Each makes a wine from it. Then the same winemakers taste the wines and rank them.
Good lord, this would keep us writing, blogging and debating for days if not weeks.