Women shop thoroughly for their wine

According to the New York Times, women purchase 77 percent of the wine in the United States and drink 60 percent of it. Other publications in my research have shown the percentages are closer to 55 percent and 60 percent. While these numbers are formidable, I just find that men and women shop differently for wine.

It has been very apparent in the past couple of weeks, particularly since Wine Spectator has released the almighty Top 100 Wines for 2013. Many men shop for wine much like they would shop for a car. They want to know what is under the engine, so to speak — how much it costs, is it allocated and how it is rated by all of the “experts” in the wine field. While it isn’t wrong for men to think that points and prestige are good reasons to enjoy wine, women just use different tools to select wines.

With many women, it is much more about the emotional connection. What might matter most is the story behind the wine or winemaker and how the wine can enhance their lives. They are interested in what is immediately in the bottle, and they tend to drink wine for their own pleasure, without worrying about whether a vintage is less than desirable.

To them, wine is all about passion, desire, romance, history and beauty.

Alpana Singh, at the age of 27, became the youngest woman ever to be inducted into the Court of Master Sommeliers. Her book, “Alpana Pours,” is a unique lifestyle book with wine and women as the focus. She spent five years at a four-star restaurant where she closely observed the sometimes humorous, sometimes absurd social interactions between men and women in all stages of their relationships.

Women are sensual creatures, Singh says. That gives us an advantage in understanding wine because the language of wine is often gender suggestive. Wine can be soft, velvety and smooth or regal, bold and sophisticated. But what if the bottle doesn’t have a description other than “A serious wine for intelligent people?” (I’m not kidding — his description really exists. What the heck does it mean?)

Here is where the little rating cards attached to wine shelves at your local wine shop can help. Someone has obviously “looked under the hood” on the wine and determined that it deserved a rating that is shelf tag worthy.

The 2012 Kung Foo Girl Riesling and Chateau Ste Michelle Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc, both from Washington made Spectator’s Top 100 this year and are on store shelves right now. The 2011 A to Z Pinot Noir, 2010 Spring Valley Uriah Red Blend, 2011 Greywacke Pinot Noir and the 2010 Shafer Relentless Syrah are also available. Many more wines just missed in front of or behind the vintage date rated on the Top 100 list. For instance, the Honig 2010 cabernet sauvignon was No. 54 on the list, but we are already selling the 2011. It is the same with the 2011 La Macchiole Bolgheri. We are on the 2010 and waiting for the 2011. A good reason to try the past and new vintages, don’t you think?

My first rule when it comes to wine is to just let wine happen. Whether it is the romance or the rating, don’t overthink it and don’t be afraid of it. After all, it is only fermented juice in a bottle.