Wine Talk

Snooth User: napagirl68

Male vs. Female Palate.... Differences?

Posted by napagirl68, Nov 25, 2012.

Yes, a potentially loaded subject, but...  given recent conversations on this forum, I became even more curious about palate/preference between the genders.

A few things I've noticed on this site:

1. There are less women to men on the forums.

Things I've noticed in my personal "wine life" of friends, tastings, etc.

1. Women tend to prefer fruitier, lighter wines than men do.

2. Tannic wines are more often preferred by men.

3.  FAR more women to men I know, like pinot noir and champagne.

Seems like a couple of different things going on here. Did a quick net search and found lots of hits on this subject.   One is below.  It debunks a "better" palate between the sexes, but does note differences:

Thoughts?  Perhaps no one cares, but the wine world, and blogs/sites such as Snooth, might want to pay attention to this as women are increasingly becoming the majority of wine consumers in the US.


Reply by RandyFisher, Nov 26, 2012.

I wonder if red wine drinkers are more likely to drink their coffee black, I suspect they are.

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 26, 2012.

Yeah if you take your coffee black, you're likely able to tolerate big tannins.

Have definitely noticed the lack of females on the blogs/sites, I think women are more likely to follow their passions in wine by getting involved in the industry somehow, or at least they are less likely to spend their time unprofitably (figuratively speaking).

Reply by GregT, Nov 26, 2012.

Perhaps no one cares, but the wine world, and blogs/sites such as Snooth, might want to pay attention to this

What would you have the sites do specifically?  Seems to me that Snooth has the highest percentage of women participants of any site I've ever visited. Not sure why that is.

Maybe it's because except for a handful of regular posters, most of the posters here tend to be fairly new to wine? Snooth gets a lot of one-time posters or people who kind of just discovered wine and then they fade away. Why would that matter? My guess, and it's only a guess, is that men tend to treat wine tasting and even more, wine collecting, as a competitive sport? I've been to dozens and dozens of dinners with guys and sometimes the wines are really great and sometimes not so great, but it almost doesn't matter. There's always someone who says "Yeah, it's good but not as good as the 1947 we had two months ago . . ."

And then there's the terminology. People act like they're hunters - "I bagged six of them." It's SHOPPING for crying out loud! But when Parker releases his scores for Bordeaux, it's a rush to see who can get which classified growth. Then, to some degree, people use them to establish positions for themselves when they take clients to dinners, etc. At least in the finance and legal fields. It's like having a particular watch or car. Wine becomes a signifier.

There's also the way men talk to each other vs the way women talk to each other. When is the last time you heard one woman tell another "you're full of sh**!? Men do that sort of thing all the time whether they're talking to friends or business acquaintances or guys they just met in a bar talking about the Vikings game.

Years ago I worked in an office as the only male and I was struck by the way they all treated each other and talked to each other. It was very light in some way. It was fun, because I like women, but there's no roughness. They were mean to each other once in a while and disagreed, but there was never that rough quality. I think that the interplay between men often has an edge of violence. We can be civilized and nerdy and everything else, but at some primitive level in the reptilian part of our brains, there's an awareness of an ancient tendency to become violent. It's just a part of men's psyche but both sexes understand it.  So conversations get loud and boisterous and as that happens, women tend to drop out. You see it in bars and clubs all the time, at dinner parties, and in office meetings. And it's not only in America - happens all over the world. 

Not long ago I was reading about a study where they found a correlation between the shape of someone's face and the likelihood that he will hit you. Guys with round squat faces like Al Capone were far more likely to swing than the guys with long, gaunt faces, and it was statistically solid evidence. Speculating, the authors figured that it may have been useful in an evolutionary sense as it warned other monkeys to stay out of the way and reduced the chance of injury to both parties. Who knows.

Anyhow, look at the blogs of men and women. Women often say that they're "demystifying" wine, whatever that could possibly mean. I've never seen a man write that. Then men start becoming more and more obsessive and that changes the conversations.

From experience pouring and teaching, I can say that when women are interested in wine, they're far better audiences than guys. I don't know why. Maybe with guys, it's often about competition and if they're listening to me, that means they don't know as much and it bothers them to have that demonstrated in front of their girlfriends/wives. Women just want to know and they keep asking questions. When it comes to winemakers, I don't see that. Talking to them, I've never noticed any difference between the approach of women and men.

All of that is anecdotal and speculative of course. And of course, it's not applicable from the general to the specific, but I don't think it's a surprise that in spite of the fact that Snooth is incredibly female-centric, the more prolific posters tend to be guys.

Not sure about your Pinot Noir and Champagne idea tho or the idea that women prefer lighter wines. I've never noticed that. I never noticed any difference in preferences other than the fact that it's easier to sell a floral-scented wine to women.

Reply by napagirl68, Nov 26, 2012. tend to treat wine tasting and even more, wine collecting, as a competitive sport?

Yeah, I do kinda see that behavior in general.  IME, women are more likely to excitedly share the news of a great purchase, and perhaps offer to share tastes with their friends- less of a "trophy" thing.

While I don't really see women in my circle turn down a Cab or Syrah out of hand- (really depends on season, food, etc); I do notice that  they are more likely to choose champagne or rose wine more often than their male counterparts, who tend toward zins and syrahs often regardless of season/pairing.  Not always- just more often than not.  And these are not "newbies" by any stretch.

As far as the forum goes, yes, there are women here that post for awhile, then not so much.  I cannot compare to other sites, as this is pretty much the only wine site I am on right now.  My comment re snooth was directed more toward marketing in general, as articles I have been reading indicate that women are becoming major wine consumers... I wasn't  saying anything is wrong with the forum, per se. 

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 26, 2012.

The competitive nature of wine discussion is on full display over at wine berserkers though there are a few really down to earth and interesting people who post there as well, mostly vignerones. Funny enough, there's a big discussion on the CT board about how their board differs from WB's.


Reply by Eric Guido, Nov 26, 2012.

As for women on wine forums, I just think that women have more things that take priority.  I think that most of us men have a few things that we obsess over.  We need these things to feel sane and give our brains a rest from thinking about work.  Too many things and a guy losses a sense of center.  However, women like to have lots of things to be constantly thinking about, so instead of focusing all their energy on one or two things, they spread it out across a broad spectrum, hence the reason they probably don't feel the need to chat on message boards as much.

Reply by outthere, Nov 26, 2012.


Reply by EMark, Nov 26, 2012.

This is an interesting conversation which, of course, will never be resolved.  I really look forward to reading peoples' opinion on this.

The black coffee observation is interesting.  A reputable researcher should check this out.  I happen to like my coffee unadulterated, and I like my red wines tannic--I'm very OK with picking out splinters from the insides of my cheeks.

I agree with NG's observation that there seems to be more male participation on this Forum than female.  However, it seems to me that the majority of "Mentors" that Snooth added a few months ago were female.  I may be wrong about that.

I also agree with GregT that male wine drinkers take their appreciation to a competitive level.  The anececdotes that he relates are spot on.  Over the years I cannot count the number of times that colleagues, associates, friends tell me about participating in a wine tasting and Such-and-Such was the "winner."

Reply by GregT, Nov 26, 2012.

Yep. Always about the winner.

But outthere - that pic is a classic. I can't imagine many women posting that - it just seems like such a  natural guy thing to do.

I have to say I've never seen the PN and Champagne thing, but then maybe most of the people I end up drinking with, of either sex, are drinking less US wine and more from elsewhere? I'm actually one of the few staunch US wine drinkers I know here in NYC. 

And when it comes to Burgundy, well, that's the ultimate competition wine. Champagne and sparklers not so much - I've been offered by males more often than females. At one time Chardonnay was the gal thing - back in the days of the fern bars, and supposedly even today Rombauer Chardonnay is "cougar juice" in the NYC restaurants and bars.  I don't know, maybe it's a coastal thing?

Interesting topic tho.

Reply by napagirl68, Nov 26, 2012.


I think you are onto something with the coastal, or at least, location thing.  Almost EVERYONE here in CA drinks some CA wine.... many enjoy old world wines as well, but not exclusively.  And we all know that a CA pinot is much cheaper than a decent Burgundy for the most part. 

Funny, when out in hotel restaurants, lounges, etc, I notice a lot of the men drinking beer and women drinking wine.  Even in FiDi (financial district) in SF (San Francisco, for those acronym-impaired), where you have a decent population of men/women with financial means, it is usually a vast majority of men having the after work beer, and women almost always having wine. Maybe because it isn't really "dinner".   Here in my neck of the woods, women, especially, sip wine sans food, while men choose beer. 

Also funny about that nasty Rombauer... talk about an oak/butter bomb.  Cougar juice, huh?  That is too funny.  I think it maybe Generation Y juice!

Just an observation from the SF bay area of the Left Coast.

Reply by shsim, Nov 27, 2012.

Here to represent! ;) haha i noticed that when i first joined snooth, it was mainly males posting in the forum so this is an interesting topic. 

NG, I notice that too with men drinking beer and women having wines at restaurants. Recently, there was a number of birthdays... the men tend to celebrate at beer bars while women at wine bars... although i enjoy beer, I do have to say wine is preferable. Maybe because beers can get very bitter (International bitterness unit IBU anyone?) especially here in San Diego... and wines are usually pretty good about not being bitter. Perhaps thats why?

I also have someone telling me that beer drinking is more relax and chill and that wine drinking can get snobby. II guess I can see that... but anyone in this forum is going to say we are a pretty chill bunch of people! And I agree! Its just that when a case of wine sells for over 10000... and theres people out there who buys them and swear by how good they are... it brings it to another level and gives the rest of us kind of a bad name. oh well. you cant win them all. Im just thankful for snooth to provide a great place for males and females alike to enjoy their wines and share experience! 

That aside, I do notice females in general tend to prefer sweeter wines and whites. It might be the sweet tooth. I definitely prefer my reds over whites. And only drink sweet wines if there are not reds, but then i rather drink a beer since theres always beer in San Diego. 

Hmmm and i havent notice women prefering Pinot Noirs and Champagne. I have had men who are the ones who prefer them.

Fun topic! and haha yes OT, it is.

Reply by napagirl68, Nov 27, 2012.


Interesting... I RARELY see men prefer champagne/sparklers out and about in the SF bay area..  They will partake if offered as a toast, or if their date/wife orders it.  But most tell me they don't prefer it. 

Pinot Noir is pretty popular overall out here, but even when I do blind tastings for my friends, the male pinot lovers will blindly pick zins over very good pinot, while the women almost always gravitate toward the pinot.

Another observation- The twenty-something crowd is pretty active out and about in the tasting scene here.  I see that to be true in Livermore Valley, Amador valley, Carmel Valley, and Napa.   I haven't noticed a big prevalence of that age group as much in Sonoma area..  But they seem to really like the tasting events.  I have volunteered for different wineries and at different tasting events and see this trend.  Interestingly, these younger females are going for pinot, but just as much for Cabs too.  Although the Cabs they tend to prefer seem to be on the fruitier side.  And Chardonnay, OMG- they love, love the oaky, buttery chards.   Prolly more a result of their age (relative wine beginners), but the men tend toward the bigger wines- the zins/syrahs/petite syrahs.  Just some observations during my time working events...

Reply by edwilley3, Dec 5, 2012.

The 20-something crowd in Dallas/Fort Worth seems to be more interested in red than white, with even a good number of women breaking from the grasp of Chardonnay. South American wines have a certain appeal probably in part due to geography. I suspect that food preferences also influence the matter. For example, we have a good deal more meat in our diet than some other parts of the country. 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 5, 2012.

Interesting.  I'll just add that the intra-sex variability is probably much greater than the inter-sex variability.  (If you don't understand these terms, look 'em up.)

I still drink beer, and I like really good (to me, hoppy) beers, mostly, but I cut way back for several reasons.  Leaves me feeling kind of bloated 'cause of the CO2; at the same time, leads to hangovers because it's hard to stay hydrated; I find wine more multi-layered and more interesting to pair with food.  Wine left me with less room in my life for beer as it took up more of my interest. 

Even my friends who almost always used to have a beer in their hands want wine when they come over to my house and put some effort into the wine they serve when I see them.  Part of it is the experience we have made it, but I think it also just comes with looking back on our lives with some degree of satisfaction and not always running about playing games, as we used to.  That and our worries about our expanding waistlines. 

I agree with GregT that there is this competitive aspect with some male wine collectors and aficionados.  I hope to never drink with that sort of person, as I view wine as the most social of beverages, really meant for sharing.  I do get satisfaction when I like something, have laid it in, and suddenly it shoots up in price, becomes the talk of the town, and so on.  Mostly, I like that because I feel like I made a good call and got a good deal on something that others finally came around to. 

I've met Koerner Rombauer and I don't think he would be entirely disappointed that his wine was a favorite of "cougars." 

Reply by Craig Bilodeau, Dec 6, 2012.

Ugh!!!  I wish I had time to read all of your great posts!  I work 50-60 hours a week and can't keep up with all of your comments.  Damn!  But I will say that I think GregT is full of sh*t and that Outthere's picture of a can of worms is a complete winner.

Reply by GregT, Dec 7, 2012.

But I will say that I think GregT is full of sh*t and that Outthere's picture of a can of worms is a complete winner.


But I also loved his pic.


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