I’ve often felt most wine labels were designed for women, or at least with a woman’s taste in mind. Ditch the white zin you’re wife or girlfriend buys and stock your wine rack with great vino made with men in mind; and with cool labels to boot. Thanks to Robert Haynes-Peterson with askmen for this post.
After a spate of female millennial-targeted red blend wines (think Little Black Dress, Belle Ambiance, Cupcake), winemakers have apparently decided it’s time to pay attention to the guys. While some of the wines below might not be specifically “for men,” there is a masculine air to their packaging and marketing. While traditional gender assignments continue to fade overall with unisex bathrooms and toy aisles, apparently the moment for Bro-Wines is now. There’s even a tour in Australia called Wine for Dudes. Added bonus: they’re all pretty good.
Gentleman’s Collection Wines ($16): Packaged like some sort of 19th century etiquette guide / trendy old-timey bourbon, the new Gentleman’s Collection wines out of California (so far consisting of a Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and a Red Blend in the U.S.) plays heavily on the same script-heavy throwback imagery as the Orphan Barrel Bourbons. Featuring the bearded visage of real-life Most Interesting Man Dr. Henry John Lindeman (considered the father of Australian winemaking), the brand sets out to celebrate old-school gentlemanly behavior (and presumably hipster facial hair). While the Cabernet is herbaceous and tight with decent tannins, it falls in line with today’s “softer, lusher” Cabs. The Red Blend, meanwhile, sets out to prove that manly wines don’t all have to be bold Tuscan tannin bombs, instead being notably fruit-forward and almost jammy.
Pair With: Whole, pit roasted hazelnut-fed suckling pig and cronuts.
Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel ($20): A number of articles have come out recently reminding everyone that it’s no big deal that women like whiskey, but there’s still something decidedly masculine in the way a lot of producers approach brown spirits. So it may not be surprising that when Jacob’s Creek decided to “finish” a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Shiraz in ex-bourbon barrels, the label featured rustic barrels and the grape parcels selected would be described as “ripe and muscular,” and a name like “Double Barrel” channeling shotguns. Winemaker Ben Bryant says the process was four years in the making, tweaking the exact grape choices and finishing techniques (the Shiraz spends 12-24 months in French and American oak, then another three months in ex-Scotch barrels, the Cab Sav in ex-Irish Whiskey). The results are rounder, softer and more complex than the same wines made the traditional way. “It’s a gender neutral wine, when it’s drunk,” says Bryant. “I can see how the packaging might be a little male-focused, but on the ground it’s very gender balanced.”
Pair With: grilled lamb and a progressive attitude.
Woodwork Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($13): On the surface, Woodwork looks like any mainstream Californian brand: a straightforward label looking like it came off a packing crate, three Central Coast expressions (the Cab Sav, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). But it’s all in the handling. Positioned to emphasize the oak (staves) and hearty, artisanal approach, the brand paired with food bloggers. The result: a simple handcrafted style label, with emphasis on the wood aspect and hand crafting. Emphasizing the man-nection (what? it’s a word), the brand cross-promoted last year with Macheesmo food blogger/author and bearded bro Nick Evans to create a number of food pairings, including cedar-grilled chicken wings and stuffed, fried mushrooms. Gender-neutral heads up: the winemaker for this project (while it was under Diageo), Monica Belavic, is not a dude.
Pair With: a Significant Other, a shaggy dog and a Weber grill.
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Aged in Bourbon Barrels ($14):Another wine finished off in ex-whiskey casks; this time, American oak that once aged bourbon. Like Jacob’s Creek, it’s aged first in traditional barrels for about 10 months, then a portion is moved to ex-bourbon to rest for another three months before final blending. The final result on this Central Coast wine is a taste mellowed with tannins, medium acids and notable oak and caramel notes on both the nose and palate. Think of it like those wine aging tools that add a little more depth to a young wine. The manly component? Bourbon Barrels and pairing suggestions like ribs and charcuterie.
Pair With: Steaks and your Dad for Father’s Day
Mark West Black Pinot Noir ($14): Pinot Noir wines are often a slender purple in color (like a certain Prince who recently shuffled off this mortal coil), and driven by fresh plum notes. Winemaker Jason Becker has taken the next step at long-time California Pinot producer Mark West and introduced the French Saingnée method of removing some of the lighter first-run juice during pressing, to intensify the skin-to-grape contact. The result is what the company calls “our deepest, darkest, smoothest wine,” and it goes well with everything from cigars to coffee & chile dry-rubbed pork chops. Even the regular Pinot Noir arrives with a man’s touch: a new promotional calendar states, “There are 365 reasons to drink Pinot Noir.” The half-dozen favorites listed include Father’s Day, Fried Chicken Day, NFL Kickoff, the World Series and St. Patrick’s Day.
Pair With: comfort in one’s skin, textured 1950s-inspired shirts and bomber jackets.
Brosé: Not a brand so much as a concept that kicked off a couple of summers ago. For the longest time, rosé wines weren’t very good, and were the sole property of middle-aged women spending their autumn years in time shares. But in the past few years, rosés have upped their game and drawn the attention of the young and stylish, including men. Last year everyone covered the brosé concept, where guys in pink collared shirts and shutter sunglasses were suddenly turned on to the stuff. The fact is, rosés are excellent warm-weather options and pair beautifully with seafood and spicy Asian dishes, and sip great on their own. There are a million brands out there, but it’s worth considering two new options: a 2015 Justin Rosé ($20) made from the Cabernet grape (that pink color comes from limited skin contact): it’s crisp, dry and perfect on a hot summer’s day. Or consider VieVite ($20) from Provence, the OG when it comes to rosés. This upscale, square-shouldered bottle from Domaine Sainte Marie is more reminiscent of European whiskies, and fruit/floral notes are balanced with a crisp, spice finish. Added bonus: the new 15L bottle is perfect for parties.
Pair With: A party cruise in the harbor, poolside in Panama City or Bonnaroo.