Monday, February 11, 2013

Maryl toasts: Why Women Love Wine

Women buy and drink more wine than men do. Despite this, if you should find yourself dining out this Valentine’s Day, don’t expect to be handed the wine list if your companion is a male.  Interested in some new suggestions?  Continue reading and check out the Second Lives Club list of ten reasonably-priced (around $20) and highly-recommended choices that are equally enjoyable alone or with a special someone.

Medical professionals may argue the pros and cons of drinking alcohol and red wine in particular but Caryl and I still love our wine.  A recent study on the ingredient resveratrol, common in red wines, found there were no metabolic benefits for healthy, middle-aged women.  

So does drinking alcohol really prevent cancer and diabetes, stop heart disease and lower cholesterol?  The New England Journal of Medicine reported last month – and this one you're really going to like - a boost in brain power for women who enjoy a drink a day. Moderate drinkers had a 23% reduced risk of mental decline compared with teetotalers.  But how do we measure moderate drinking?  I’ve heard anywhere from four to eight ounces a day.  And then you have to consider the added calories. Once you figure  out what you are comfortable with, the wine will taste sweeter or drier, whichever your preference. Here's our list:  

Ten Wines for around $20

Four White Wines

Denis Jamain Domaine de Reuilly, Les Pierres Plates, 2009
This sauvignon blanc from Reuilly is noticeably darker than others from the Loire region.  It has a concentrated and tropical bouquet but is versatile for simply sipping  or with a meal.

Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils Chablis, 2010
This simple Chablis from Burgundy has tangy aromas of orange and lemon zest, plus a whiff of toasty reduction and a hint of hazelnut.  Its austere flavor is light with a persistent, juicy finish.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Patelin de Tablas Blanc, 2010
This southern Rhône-style wine from the central coast region of California is a blend of four Rhône grapes: Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. This results in a structured, fresh, crisp and focused wine that offers a fine balance between lively fruit and herbal flavors.

La Cana, 2011
This aromatic wine made from the Albarino grape is produced in Rias Baixas, Spain after being aged in French oak barrels.  There are notes of white peaches and ripe pears followed by flavors of pineapple and bright citrus yet it finishes crisp and dry to the palate.

A Sparkling Wine

Soligo Prosecco
This red sparkling wine from northern Italy has the delicate fragrance and flavors of apples and lemons.  It’s crisp and lively yet a little tart.  This Prosecco’s moderate alcohol content makes it perfect for all occasions.

A Rose Wine

La Clarine Farm Rose, 2011
This dark, pale ruby blend of Syrah and Mourvedre grapes comes from natural winemaking pioneers in the Sierra Foothills of California.  Earthy yet fresh, this rose wine can be served as an appertif or can accompany a meal.   

Four Red Wines

La Rioja Alta Rioja Reserva, Viña Alberdi Selección Especial, 2005
This Rioja Reserva was aged seven years before its release. There is a mellow fruit flavor framed by vanilla from being aged in American oak. The silky feel on the palate and pleasant acidity highlight a fresh and long-lasting aftertaste.

Burlotto, Langhe Freisa, 2010
Langhe Freisa is from the Piedmont region 
of northwestern Italy.   The combination of textural lightness, firm tannins and deep flavors make it a perfect match with grilled meats and sausages.

Jean-Paul Brun Domaine des Terres Dorées, Côte de Brouilly 2010
This is not your usual Beaujolais.  Côte de Brouilly is produced using techniques normally reserved for making Burgundy, which is why that’s what you might think you are drinking.  It’s fresh, energetic and spicy.

Warwick, Three Cape Ladies, Cape Blend, 2010
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinotage grapes is produced in South Africa by three generations of women.  The blackcurrant and licorice mix with the spicy pepper flavors to deliver a full bodied wine.

(This selection of wines are some of our personal favorites and those of Eric Asimov from the New York Times.)

While we’re still on the subject, did you know that women are better wine tasters than men?  I suppose that’s another matter of opinion. But women are owning and running record number of vineyards these days.  Later this week, we toast a pioneer in winemaking Norma Radcliffe and her Three Cape Ladies label at Warwick Vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa.  She didn't start out to make wines when she left Canada almost 40 years ago. What an interesting second life.  We’ll drink to that!


  1. I loved your reviews of wines unfamiliar to me, and I'll love trying some soon. We're kind of stuck on Calif. wines and I'm lost when it comes to others-- so it's nice to have a change.

    1. I know what you mean. It's easier to stay with what are comfortable with and knowing wines takes a bit of time and effort as pleasant as it might be. I never think of trying a wine from Spain yet that what was suggested at my local wine store and the La Cana was refreshing different yet simple and a nice change from Chardonay. Thanks.

  2. Fabulous women,

    I love this blog post! In 1970 my father placed a small ad in a wine magazine to begin a Wine Society. Today it boasts over 200 members with a waiting list. Over the years he's taught us so much, and my hubby of 25 yrs has really absorbed more than I (hate admitting that). Now my son has begun his wine journey at 20.

    I shared your blog with my 85 y/o dad. Mind you, he had a stroke in 2000 and can't use half his body, but his memory is extraordinary and he continues his love of wine. I hope you don't mind if I share his reply (a bit long but worth the read). Let me know your thoughts: (Remember: he typed this with 1 hand!)

    Dear Cath,
    Interesting blog; the more discussion about wine the better. It’s good to see more women are getting into wine, especially reds—most women prefer whites.

    There are a plethora of under $20 wines in this global wine-producing market; I am sure the 10 mentioned here are good-drinking and of excellent price/value.

    But of necessity all these moderate priced wines suffer from a problem: they are one-dimensional (as opposed to the complex flavors and nuances of those mentioned hereafter). During my 45 years of wine drinking, I have tasted all of those mentioned, except the S African, at one time or another—not the particular winemaker but the area (appellation) mentioned. Suggestion: try an Argentinian Malbec from the Mendoza Valley.

    If the purpose of the blog is to educate women (or readers) about the beauty of wine, then I would suggest introducing them to the real thing so that they can experience what it’s all about and come to the realization of the difference b/w the above and, say, a 1982, 1989 or 1990 Pichon Lalande (a Bordeaux red, there are many others) or a 2004 Batard Montrachet (a Burgundy white) or a 2000 Charmes Chambertin (a Burgundy red). Several can chip in on the cost or join a good wine society where they have periodic tastings. has a great selection of old wines but not cheap.

    Two other things: Yes, women have better palates than men; the younger the better. As to all-women wineries: look no further than Spottswoode near St. Helena, CA—maker of great Cabernet Sauvignon and Domaine Weinbach in Alsace, FR maker of topnotch Alsation wnes. Dad

    1. Women love wine. We love your Dad. He has given us something to think about re appreciating wines and some intriguing suggestions. Thank you so much for sharing. I will toast him the next time I sip.

  3. I like the Prosecco. When i was celebrating New Years, we were moving from house to house to continue the party, and brought along wines as any good guest should. Well, it turned out, one bottle was still rolling around the floor of my car after the party was over. I brought it in my home with a mental note to return it to whomever, one day. You know the rest. I opened it on a lark when I needed a pick-me-up, and it turned out to be the best flavor and aroma.... it was the Prosecco!

    1. Hi Diane, I understand doing things on a lark. My brother brought a bottle of Prosecco for Christmas. It wasn't a wine I would normally select and we really enjoyed it...nice change. Naturally I had to sip some while shooting the bottle Monday morning. Goes nice with breakfast too!! Thanks.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions. I am all over the white wines, but since I don't typically care for reds this list will give me some ideas for when we next have red wine drinkers over.

    1. I'm with you on that although I can recollect a few times when I thoroughly enjoyed a red. I think they were all in Italy! Thanks.

  5. I did love wine until I had to give it up due to migraines. Never had a problem when younger but in the past 10 years wine has been a major trigger.

    1. I've heard other women say this too--not necessarily migraines but other results from drinking wine.
      Some women have suggested they can't drink as much as they used to. I wonder if it has anything to do
      with hormones. Our 2nd life health coach, Ruth, is preparing a post on the menopausal diet. We'll have to ask her about any changes with alcohol.

    2. Have you experimented with wines with lower tannin levels or organic wines that are sulfite-free?

  6. In my late 30s, I worked in the Cognac industry and lived in that region of France. I took advantage of every opportunity being an "industry insider" provided. While the challenge of going chateau to chateau to find good "modest" wines for everyday meals for the following year made every Fall exciting, nothing beat tasting the great wines. Shifra2859's Dad is right. But I love the geographic diversity of your list!

    1. Tough job, Sharon. I'm jealous. How does one become a wine taster? Please blog about that at some point. I was pleased too that the list was spread around the globe and covered some of the top and also upcoming wine regions. Thanks.

  7. I love red wine. There's just nothing better than relaxing with a glass of wine. Thanks for the recommendations. I can't wait to find them and give them a try. And you are right, starting a winery sounds like a terrific second life career.

    1. I know. I met a woman who left the financial industry to start a winery in Maine of all places. She's doing it but wouldn''t let me do a Second Life profile on her. Darn. Carrie's next post though is on a woman vintner from South Africa. Thanks.

  8. First of all, thank you for the recommendations! I love wine but have never known much about it . . .appreciate the "gift." I also wasn't aware that women were such a presence in the industry. Great info. Thank you!

    1. There seems to be a lot to learn before becoming fully knowledgeable about wines. They're classified by countries, grapes, vineyards, colors, years. You have to start somewhere. Check in for our next post on the South African vintner. Hers is an interesting story. Thanks.