Father’s Day Wines



This Sunday is Father’s Day, so I’m going to get downright practical on this episode with some terrific gift wines suggestions that you can buy dear old dad.

Now I recognize not everyone celebrates Father’s Day for various reasons. Mine was that my father was an alcoholic, and my mother left him when I was two years old. However, I had a wonderful grandfather and several other men in my life who were inspirational role models. I think of them on Father’s Day.

So, how do you choose the perfect gift bottle? And is there such a thing as “man’s wine” versus a woman’s wine”? Of course, it’s all awash once you’re on to your third glass of Pinot or Cabernet. Let’s dig in, shall we?



  • Does the research show a difference in wine consumption between men and women?
  • Why has it taken so long for wine companies to target their marketing towards men?
  • What approach do wine companies take when marketing to men?
  • How are canned wines marketing themselves differently from bottled wines?
  • What are my top wine picks for Father’s Day gifts?




Wine Reviews


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Transcript & Takeaway

Welcome to episode 28!

This Sunday is Father’s Day, so I’m going to get downright practical on this episode with some terrific gift wines suggestions that you can buy dear old dad.

Now I recognize not everyone celebrates Father’s Day for various reasons. Mine was that my father was an alcoholic, and my mother left him when I was two years old.

However, I had a wonderful grandfather and several other men in my life who were inspirational role models. I think of them on Father’s Day.

You’ll find links to all of the wines I recommend in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/28.

You’ll also find links to which liquor stores closest to you have these wines in stock right now, and how many bottles of each are on the shelves. Both my website and my free mobile apps for iPhone and Android use real-time inventory updates and GPS location data to give you this info.

You can download my free mobile app at nataliemaclean.com/mobileapp

Now on to our episode!

As one comedian noted, fatherhood is pretending that the gift you love most is soap-on-a-rope. So why not give dad something he’ll truly love?

Like wine.

But how to choose the perfect bottle? And is there such a thing as “man’s wine” versus a woman’s wine”? Of course, it’s all awash once you’re on to your third glass of Pinot or Cabernet. Granted, it’s not exactly a hot-button issue, but it’s timely, so let’s dig in, shall we?

Research studies have found that 58% of men say they drink beer more often as their alcoholic beverage of choice versus only 17% who say wine. Conversely, 43% of women say they drink wine most often versus only 28% who say beer.

Perhaps that’s why wines aimed at women were first on the scene, think Little Black Dress, Girls’ Night Out, Mad Housewife and others. So it’s probably inevitable that men’s labels follow, sort of like evolution, but on a smaller focus group scale.

Most of us shop for wine based on the label since we usually can’t try the wine before we buy, unlike a book where you can read the first chapter or a dress that you can try on.

However, my partner Miles loves a dry rose, and he’s man enough to admit it in mixed company. Real men do drink pink.

But he seems to be a wine unicorn if you go by some of the wine marketing aimed at men. For example, in a Super Bowl ad a few years ago, men at a wine and cheese tasting kept sneaking into the kitchen to drink beer that was secretly ensconced in a hollow wheel of cheese.

It also appears that wine marketers have jumped on the red-blooded bandwagon, or rather, race car. One California winery has sponsored a NASCAR event on Father’s Day for several years now.

Others have taken a more direct approach in naming their wines for men. “The Slammer” is a robust Syrah from Big House wines, whose winery is close to a California prison aka the big house. The dude on the label is gangsta.

Gnarly Head, another California winery, aims its marketing at men who love beer from the keg. Carnivor, a Gallo brand, uses the hashtag #DevourLife, aiming at millennial males.

Then there’s the popular gag gift wine named Fat Bast… You can fill in that last part, it rhymes with tastard. I always thought that they missed a golden marketing opportunity not featuring a rotund man on the label with jeans plunging to plumber half mast or should I say “half asked.”

Another winery inscribed GPS coordinates to rugged hiking trails on its corks. Not that women don’t enjoy the outdoors, the winery hastened to add.

Naturally, that leads us to canned wine, one of the fastest-growing segments in the wine biz, accounting for about $70 million in sales in the US last year. Perfect for a backpacking weekend in the woods, or a tailgating party at NASCAR.

One of my intrepid online course students, Mike Welling in Toronto, sent me a link to a terrific New York Times article by Eric Asimov, who wrote that “many of the early canned wines were made of unknown grapes from dubious origins, pitched at people who were intimidated by wine culture, but Sans’s [a California winery he discusses] twist is selling single-vineyard, organically grown varietal wines, made as naturally as possible, expressly for people who love wine.”

According to Asimov, an Oregon rosé sells its Pinot Noir in cans but doesn’t indicate the grape or the vintage on the label. The winery’s website says, “It’s hard to keep your pinky up when you’re drinking wine from a can and includes the hashtag, #pinkiesdown.

Regardless of your take on gender wine marketing, it still comes down to quality and value. As they say in the wine business, the first sale is based on the label, the second is based on what’s inside the bottle.

So here are my top picks as gifts for dad this Sunday. You’ll find links to the full reviews, food pairings, and local liquor store stock in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/28.


Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne from Champagne, France

Is there anything more celebratory than a glass of Champagne? Don’t save it just for New Year’s Eve though. Father’s Day is perfect for a toast to dad, and it’ll also pair well with grilled seafood, Portobello mushrooms and veggies. This robust, non-vintage Champagne is a blend of 40% Chardonnay sourced from 35 crus or vineyards, and the remainder, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, so it has the full-bodied heft to pair well the charry flavours of the grill. I love this bubbly, not just for its toasty notes of green apples and freshly baked bread, but also for its finesse and persistence of bubbles. It’s about $60 and I gave it 93 points out of 100.


Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand

This is one of the most consistently delicious and refreshing whites on the liquor store shelves. A vibrant, zesty white with enticing notes of passionfruit and lime, it works as an aperitif for cocktail parties or pairs with a wide range of dishes, from steamed shrimp to spinach quiche. The fruit for this wine is gently pressed and the juice is cold settled to retain its freshness. The screwcap is brilliant, especially for backyard when don’t want to be bothered with a corkscrew. It’s about $18 and I gave it 90 points.


Guilty Men White from Niagara, Ontario

Sure, I couldn’t resist this label, but the wine is also terrific. It’s an intriguing and rich white wine with layers of flavour and complexity, especially for this price. This is a Niagara blend of Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It’s aromatic offering notes of white florals and fresh pear with smoke. It’s made by a very respected producer, Malivoire, operating in a gravity-flow winery and farming sustainably. Pair with oysters on the half shell, Indian curry and spicy dishes. It’s about $15 and I gave it 88 points.


Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon from California

A smooth, full-bodied red wine that’s a blend of 65% Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% from Napa Valley. This wine is named for the grey pines which at dust appear ghostlike through the coastal valley. Pair it with meat lovers pizza, grilled burgers and lamb Bolognese. It’s about $23 and I gave it 90 points.


Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone Shiraz from Victoria, Australia

A classic Shiraz from Australia named after the Rufus Stone in honour of the rock in the English forest where King William II died when an arrow bounced off an oak tree and pierced his chest while hunting. Talk about unlucky. And the story goes that the arrow was from the quiver of Sir Walter Tyrrell who was an ancestor of the Tyrrell winemaking family was responsible for the incident. But this beautiful, smooth, layered blackberry, dark plum and nutty Shiraz makes up for it. Pair this wine with game dishes and grilled meats. It’s about $20 and I gave it 92 points.


Sartori Corte Bra Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico from Veneto, Italy

A robust, deeply concentrated Amarone. Aromas on the nose and palate of blackberries, smoke, leather, dark spice. Polished tannins, ready to enjoy now. Balanced with a long finish. This is a terrific gift wine for dedicated fathers who attend the ballet recitals, basketball games and bake sales. It’s about $50 and I gave it 93 points.


Quinta do Crasto Vintage Port 2015 from the Douro Valley, Portugal

This is a rich and generous, just like the most appreciated fathers are when it comes to curfews, car keys and trust funds. This fortified dessert wine is made from grapes harvested from old vines that are about 80 years old. A gorgeous dessert wine, with aromas of concentrated blackberry and dark fruit, and spice. A finish that lasts seemingly 27 hours. Perfect on its own after dinner or pair it with Black Forest Cake, smoked cheeses and late-evening games of poker. It’s about $30 and I gave it 95 points.


I hope you enjoyed this episode! If you did, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s looking for some great Father’s Day gift wines. My podcast is easy to find: just search for it on Google — Unreserved Wine Talk, or my name.

You can tag me Twitter or Facebook @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine.

You’ll find links and resources in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/28. Next week, we’ll be chatting with Maureen Downey, aka the Wine Detective, about wine forgeries, fakes and scandals. You’ll learn tips on how to spot a fake wine based on the label and more.

Finally, if you want to take your wine and food pairing to the next level, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.

I can’t wait to share more personal wine stories with you.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this one. I hope something great is in your glass this week!



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Father’s Day Wines: Is There Such a Thing as a Man’s Wine?

Father's Day champagne gift 630

Is there such a thing as “man’s wine” versus a woman’s wine”? The question comes up as we approach Father’s Day. Of course, it’s all awash once you’re on to your third glass of pinot or cabernet or chardonnay. This is an interesting piece from a reporter for the Associated Press (AP) with whom I spoke about the “issue” …

Cal Dennison likes a nice cold glass of chardonnay. And he’s man enough to admit it.

That’s hardly surprising since Dennison is the winemaker at the Modesto-based Redwood Creek winery, but is he an exception?

Judging by some marketing campaigns, you might think so. Take the Super Bowl ad that ran a couple years back in which men invited to a wine and cheese party sneaked into the kitchen to unpack beer hidden in a fake wheel of cheese.

It was a stereotype played for laughs – in real life lots of men like wine – but maybe one with a crumb of cultural truth. The designator for “average dude” in political campaigning last fall was Joe Six-pack, not Peter Pinot Noir.

It’s hard to say for sure exactly who’s drinking what, but a Gallup Poll from last July found that among women who drink, 43 percent say wine is what they drink most often and 28 percent say beer. Among men who drink, 58 percent say beer is what they drink most often and 17 percent say wine.

“As a general rule, guys get together, they don’t want to be seen with a glass of wine,” says Nelson Barber, an associate professor of hospitality management at Texas Tech University who has studied gender differences in marketing wine.sommelier

Wine companies would like to change that. During the past few years some have adopted guy-friendly marketing with tie-ins to such red-blooded pastimes as camping and racing.

Take Maximus, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, syrah and merlot introduced by the Bennett Lane Winery in Calistoga a few years back. Bennett Lane, which owns a NASCAR team, is sponsoring a NASCAR West event at Infineon Raceway this Father’s Day weekend.

Then there’s “The Slammer,” a syrah from Big House wines (their Soledad winery is near a California state prison), that features a back label showing a tough-looking guy with pants slung at plumber level.

Redwood Creek doesn’t define itself by gender – the outdoors isn’t solely a male preserve – but it is sold under a campaign strong on muscular pursuits; corks are emblazoned with GPS coordinates leading to various hiking spots.


“Without a doubt we start with the great outdoors,” says Dennison, a horseman and fisherman. “If you decide to bring a little wine on an outdoor adventure, by golly, Redwood Creek is the wine of choice.”

Natalie MacLean, editor of one of the largest wine review sites at www.nataliemaclean.com, tends to be skeptical of marketing campaigns, but she understands a winery’s need to stand out on crowded shelves.

A waiter pouring wine in a fine restaurant

Wines aimed at women, with labels such as “Mad Housewife,” came out some years ago and MacLean isn’t surprised to see guy wines follow. “We all shop based on the label – fluffy squirrel, castle in the middle distance – it’s whatever works,” she says.

It’s up to consumers to decide “whether the wine delivers – for a man’s man or a woman’s woman,” she says.

When selling wine, one thing you don’t want to do is walk up to a guy in a wine shop and ask “Can I help you?” says Barber. He theorizes this may have something to do with that elusive asking-for-directions gene.

An opener like “What kind of occasion are you thinking of buying a wine for” is a better bet, Barber says.

Dennison has started some conversations of his own with fellow members of his riding club, men and women.

It’s “quite the rodeo cowboy culture and the folks there, of course, are enjoying the odd beer or two,” he says. “But as I spend time with them, I’m just getting pummeled with questions on wine and which wine we should have and what wine is good.”

He’s got Father’s Day all planned out. Up early, get the boat, off to his favorite Sierra lake for some fishing with his son and then back to the ranch to fire up the grill and cook their catch.

One guess what he’ll be washing it down with.



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