How Will Wine-Soaked Women Resist Pinot Popcorn?

Sauvignon Blanc Kettle (Populence)

Sauvignon Blanc Kettle (Populence)

Just one more reason for women to love wine!

Earlier this week, Manhattan’s own gourmet popcorn purveyor, Populence, announced that they had joined forces with New Zealand winemaker Kim Crawford to craft a wine-spiked popcorn. Between the choices of Pinot Noir Drizzle and Sauvignon Blanc Kettle, movie night just became a whole lot classier.

Indeed, Populence’s website encourages customers to pair the boozy snacks with Ms. Crawford’s wines of inspiration—Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Marlborough Pinot Noir. Which is good advice, given that you can’t reach your buzz on the highbrow snack alone (sigh).

Will women be able to resist?

If a recent slew of articles is to be believed, then, no, they probably won’t. From Allure to The Wall Street Journal, writers have sought to lay bare the fairer sex’s uncanny love for the nightly glass of Chard–a problem, it seems, of apocalyptic measure. With rhetoric verging on the hyperbolic–one piece bemoaning the female “wine addiction”–a more troubling question remains: why do we write about women and wine the way we do?

At first glance, the reasoning appears benign. After all, just as we expect a man to enjoy a glass of whiskey after a particularly trying day, so we’ve come to sketch a woman and her wine in a similar shade. And yet, the latter remains the far more heavily (if not exclusively) scrutinized image. Among the flurry of trend pieces pointing to the problem of women and wine, not one questions the beau and beer counterpart.

To be sure, an increase in skepticism is not completely unfounded. The Journal points to statistics that appear to reveal a rising problem: “Between 1999 and 2008, the number of young women who showed up in emergency rooms for being dangerously intoxicated rose by 52%. The rate for young men, though higher, rose just 9%.” On its surface, an alarming statistic, absolutely. But does it tell the whole story?

It’s easy to frame these numbers through a singular lens–that women are drinking (and drinking wine) far more than in years past. But the article fails to consider a more subtle root: given the copious inflow of social media, online support, and trend reports for female drinking, perhaps more women are beginning to recognize when they have a problem and when they need to get help.

(Getty)

(Getty)

This oversight alone is hardly cause for upheaval, but it’s important to note the less intuitive problem to which it leads. As these articles have blossomed in recent years (indeed, if you aren’t writing about women and wine these days, you probably aren’t doing it right), we’ve seen a similar influx in wine brands catering to women exclusively. From the labels Sassy Bitch to Skinnygirl, the industry has profited heavily from marketing toward a specific female stereotype: fun, uncomplicated, and unintimidating.

There’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with dressing wine (in moderation) as a light and fun experience — hats off to Bethenny Frankel and others who have tapped into such a lucrative demographic for their products. But why are we intertwining women with wine and then chastising them for grabbing a glass?

Or alternatively, where are the Manly Merlots and the Breadwinner Bourdeaux?

They’re nowhere to be found — likely because they’d gather dust among the shelves of Food Emporium. And they should–viewing it through the male lens, gendered drinking just seems silly. You’d never see a Sassy Bitch label on Gramercy Tavern’s wine list. It’s tasteless, crass, and founded on the assumption that women can’t be trusted to know the difference between a ’98 and an ’04. And yet the brand continues to soar.

This, unfortunately, is where women have seemed to tie their own hands. In questioning why we write about women and wine the way we do, we’ve only fueled the understanding that there are two categories of vino fanciers in the world: the wine drinker and the female wine drinker.

It’s a distinction that, quite frankly, needs to go, and one that writers of late are doing much to perpetuate. The next time you peruse an article that scrutinizes a woman’s choice to pour a second glass after work, you might thus ask yourself: yes, but what was her husband doing at the time?

(Pass the popcorn, please.)