Are women breaking through the ''wine'' glass ceiling?

Friday, 25 October, 2013
Humble Grape
When she is drunk, what matters to the Goddess of Love? She cannot tell her groin from her head.
Juvenal (6-300, I)
The Latin poet and satirist Juvenal was not the only one who asked his fellows Romans this rhetorical question in the II century AD.

In Ancient Rome, until 189 BC, women were prohibited from wine-drinking and those found to be breaking the rules were put to death. Even if they were allowed the grape nectar, married women were excluded from convivia (the Roman symposium) where wine was consumed in great abundance. A woman who drank wine was believed to turn into an evil creature and cause irreparable danger. A tradition of misogynistic and ambiguous satirical literature reinforced this stereotype for centuries after the Romans. Prejudices that related to women and wine- especially the common innuendo to female adultery was granted as no joke during marital court cases prior to the eighteenth century.

Today, although in a different fashion, both experts of market research and the press alike love talking about women and wine. Whether it is by speculating on the reasons behind female wine consumption, or by reporting the latest rates on middle-class women’s alcoholism from wine, we regularly hear about the excesses or the musings of the female wine drinker. It is clear that women are now an established category of sophisticated and fashionable wine consumers, on a par with their male counterparts. Could you call this gender equality?

Glossy magazines and respectable newspapers will tell you- the female wine-drinker is the favourite category for both the retail and hospitality markets. When beer is no longer a viable territory, the preferred path of a lady becomes terroir, especially in Anglo-American countries and recently in Asia. Marketing and advertising agencies have taken advantage of these changes constructing a fast-selling image of the new independent wine-drinking woman. Statistics can give us the big data talk about the tastes, power purchase, age range and professions of today’s drinking demographic, yet this has not empowered women at all. Why?

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