Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

The past few weeks in France and Italy has cemented in my mind the reality that, in the wine business for at least half of the known wine made in the world, it is still a man’s world. Rather, it is a paternalistic point of view that still dominates, whether those views are held by a man or a woman.

At Vinitaly all one had to do was look at the seminars and panels and know that the world is still heavily populated by white middle aged and rapidly graying men. But a new product is being promoted, and who do they send out to blow the horns about it?

Where was I? Oh yes, the archetype - father knows best.

My dad loved the TV show, I Dream of Jeannie. He used to say this to me all the time in the 1970’s. “Son, man’s job is to provide and woman’s job is to love.” Imagine how well that would have played if I had bought into that and taken that back to my northern Californian university life. Needless to say, I became indoctrinated in the movement that had women striving for equality. It was a tilt and a shift from the cultural perspective the women in my highly matriarchal family (they lived longer than the men – man’s world indeed!) dispensed. They were highly supportive of their young men growing up in which they were the "center" of some world. It is just that in the Italian (and Greek and pretty much the Latin) world, the women are so benign (and protective) that the majority of men grow up thinking they can do no wrong. So off they go to conquer the (wine) world.

Giacomo Tachis just announced that he was retiring, and for a generation Tachis has been a guiding light. I never spent that much time with the Dottore, except to meet him a time or two. But his influence had been wide among man and women in the wine world. If Maria Gazzaniga or Teresa Lungarotti had been accorded with the same level of gravitas in the world of wine, would it have changed things much? I don’t know. But I know this – I am tired of the domination of the wine world, indeed the world indeed, in which the history has been written by a quill that has been dipped in the inkwell of testosterone. I see it so much in Italy, especially at Vinitaly where everything is concentrated and magnified 10x.

It seems that even the ascendant women in the business have a great deal of that paternalistic juice flowing in their veins, blue bloods and terrones alike.

And while it might be more a matter of those who like to dominate the process vs. those who jump around in the creative pond, I am navel gazing a little bit this Sunday morning.

How else can that explain this continuing mania for oak and alcohol? The need for an “important” wine, which means a Cabernet @ 14.8% drenched in new oak, screaming for a huge piece of meat. Please, that’s so 1982. Or so 1962.

I was sipping on a Soave last night and enjoyed it thoroughly. And that is the way it seems to be going.

Personally, I will enjoy it more when the important men and the women in our world come down off their magic carpets and relate a little more with us little people. There are plenty of wines in Italy and the world ( of man, woman and all the other creatures in it) that are not important and are a perfect joy to be around. Kind of like the people in it.

To be continued….

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