by Fred McMillin
for May 18, 1998

The Feminine Palate


THE EYES—Women tend to be more color conscious than men, perhaps due to the time and effort used in searching for the desired shade and texture in selecting clothes. This ability to discriminate gives women a head start in wine appraisal, particularly about color and clarity.

...Alan Young, Making Sense of Wine

THE NOSE—Females in general smell things more acutely than males.

...Dr. Max Lake, The Flavor of Wine

THE MOUTH—Not all of us are born with equal tasting abilities. Supertasters have as many as 100 times the number of tastebuds of poor tasters. Two thirds of supertasters are women.

...Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator (Yale Univ. study)

OVERALL—Several men in the wine industry have admitted to me privately that their wives excel them as tasters.

...The legendary Leon Adams, The Commonsense Book of Wine

The Rest of the Story

Since the ladies have these skills, I pay particular attention when they rate a wine much higher than the men in my tastings. Here's the latest one.

Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec Champagne, Non-Vintage Reims, France $45

Compared to the Clicquot Brut, the Demi-Sec yeast and fruit flavors are much less pronounced, since they compete with about four percent sugar in the wine. I expect the ladies' extra taste buds could sense those fainter flavors that eluded most of we fellers. When the budget permits, get some ripe pears, a bland white cheese and some semi-sweet crackers...and the Demi-Sec Clicquot. Conduct your own gender test and e-mail eGG the results. (If the budget is tight, you could purchase a half bottle, which can provide a sufficient taste for at least five couples.)


Little wonder that the ladies liked this wine. A century and a half ago, Russia was a large consumer of champagne. Their favorite was made by a lady, and it had a high sugar content. The lady was the Widow (Veuve) Clicquot, and the champagne resembled today's demi-sec. Note: For the Clicquot story, see the Jan. 31, 1997 Winery of the Week titled "Barbe's Secret."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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