Fifty shades of girly wines
As I was looking for some wine-related inspiration on the internet earlier today, I became distracted by the rather incredulous story of the women’s refuge boss who is urging women to burn their copies of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ on a giant bonfire on November 5th. Comparing Mr Grey’s unusual sexual preferences to the heinous crimes of Fred West seemed a little extreme to me – I bought the book at the airport recently but I didn’t get very far with it because it is a really terrible book. Anyway, I continued on the tangent I had gone off on, and learned that the ‘Fifty shades of’ has become a very popular headline… ‘Fifty shades of gay’, ‘Fifty shades of green’ (in which there is some good advice on how to keep your golf course green – phew!) and yes – you’ve guessed it – ‘Fifty shades of Chardonnay’ already exists.
I found it on a site called ‘The Island News’, the only place to go for all the news from Beaufort, South Carolina (again – phew!). And it turned out to be a rather nice piece about females loving Chardonnay and men being a bit scared of it on account of its girliness. There are some really grim sentences like “It’s spanking new and hey, try it with a few ice cubes and even your husband might be seduced into taking a manly sip.” Even though this was only marginally better than 50 shades itself, it did raise an interesting point that I wanted to examine further. Is there such a thing as a ladies’ wine? Do some wines inherently appeal more to men or women, or is it just clever marketing?
I decided to focus on Chardonnay. Ice cubes and manly sips aside, was there something fundamentally girly about it? I examined the contents of my wine rack. There is one Chardonnay in there, called ‘The Googly’ by One Chain Vineyards. My husband would never buy this. It must have been me. And while I will probably quaff this one while working on my laptop some evening now that I’ve remembered it is there, it could just as easily stand up to a hearty meal. A good Chardonnay has a rich texture that works brilliantly with pasta dishes containing creamy sauces, and with a backbone of oak there are not many foods that would swamp its flavour. Far from making it girly, Chardonnay’s versatility and food-pairing scope and the fact that the most expensive white wines on earth are made from it surely ought to make Chardonnay the modern man’s first choice. And according to The Island News, ordering Chardonnay will impress your date as well. Forget Fifty Shades, Chardonnay is the Mr Grey of wine grapes! Strong, brooding, decadent, rich…. (Okay so maybe I read a little more of the book than I let on…. but it was only in the interest of journalistic research).
Just to make sure I wasn’t being biased, I went and asked my husband to rate the other wines in our wine rack according to their manliness/girliness. “Tiddy Widdy Well”, an Australian blend, he rated as ‘definitely not very manly’ but when I told him it was a Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot blend, he felt confused, as he would have thought that Shiraz would be more masculine than that. ‘Fleurie’ he dismissed as ‘one of yours’ (thank God I didn’t have any Saint-Amour), and we agreed that ‘Sannio Falanghina’ sounded like one of Mr Grey’s special boudoir skills and decided to just give up on the debate at that point.
So actually I’ve learned nothing, and as a reader, let’s face it, neither have you. Just think, in the time it’s taken you to read this, you could have read a couple of pages of ‘Fifty Shades’ or taken it into the back garden and set it alight. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. You should read whatever you want, just as you should drink whatever you want, and whether that is Fifty Shades with Saint-Amour or a Tom Clancy Novel with a manly glass of Shiraz, it’s entirely up to you. As for me, my work is done for the day, and I have some reading and drinking to do!