When I review a wine for the blog, the process generally goes something like this.
- I find a wine that’s generally a pretty good deal.
- I drink the wine.
- I make a note on my computer that the wine was a good potential recommendation for the blog along with any context or circumstances around the bottle selected.
- When it comes time to write the review, I research tasting notes from the wine producer, awards and/or wine scores, etc. and then begin to construct the post.
For this week’s wine recommendation that process went like this:
- I found a super wine deal and bought an entire case at 75% off the suggested retail value price.
- Josh and I considered taking home this bottle of wine for Thanksgiving, so first decanted and drank a bottle ourselves.
- I made a note to review this wine that I’d blindly bought a case of because, at $5 a bottle, it was a stupendous deal that you too should try to go out and find!
- I start researching review and tasting notes for the wine…and was immediately kind of dumbfounded!
Tasting notes and reviews can be dumbfounding for a number of reasons. Sometimes the “notes of” suggestions are generally ridiculous. Things like, “notes of cement, soil, tanned leather, tobacco, with fruity overtones” doesn’t immediately strike a mouth watering chord. In fact, at a Sommelier curated dinner that Josh and I attended in Rome, part of the evening included making up the wildest, most ridiculous tasting notes of a unique Tuscan wine that, in fairness, was particularly difficult to describe. I still have my “notes” in my notes from that dinner. I wrote: “Hints of black licorice under dark fruit flavors. Smells like the inside of the medicine case my family took camping with us. Antiseptic? Menthol? Medicinal?”
Nobody is going to print that on a wine bottle! At least no one should!
This week’s wine is Sledgehammer Zinfandel 2013 and, as I mentioned, we scored a full case of this wine for about $5 a bottle on the liquor store closeout deal. We drank the aforementioned bottle at home before taking a bottle to Thanksgiving and enjoyed both after decanting for 20-30 minutes. It was everything I’d expect from a Zinfandel: dark fruits, spicy undertones, full bodied. Yet, when I started looking up reviews, the first thing I noticed that was out of the ordinary was the tasting notes which read:
Rock out with your cork out. Pair this big, bold, spicy zinfandel with thick meats and thumpin’ beats.
So that was interesting!
Then I headed over to the full Sledgehammer website where it asked me to verify my age in a box that read: “This wine is for full grown men, not boys!”
The loaded homepage looked like this…
And clicking around yielded pages like this…
And it became more and more apparent that the marketing campaign for Sledgehammer wines was to sell them as “man wines.”
Generally speaking, I find this hilarious…and kind of stupid! I mean, I find a lot of marketing towards “gender specific products” that are not inherently gender specific to be unnecessary and ridiculous. One of my favorite commentaries on this subject is Ellen Degeneres talking about Bic pens for her. Let me be clear, Bic pens for women were an actual thing sold in stores!
And while I don’t think that Sledgehammer wines are going to offend a man by suggesting that he drink his wine from a bucket, or that he remove the cork from his wine with a pliers, or that he speak in one word, caveman like sentences “Wine. Meat. Good.” the great irony in this campaign is the wine drinking men I know actually relish in the fact they DON’T do any of those things. The wine loving men I know revel in having the proper barware, enjoying the right wine with the right meal, and appreciating that wine is wine and not a 24 pack of Miller Lite.
I’m not sure what the market for “men’s wine” really is because good wine is good wine. True, Sledgehammer boasts a slightly higher alcohol content than other Zinfandels, so maybe a “man’s wine” has to be more likely to get you intoxicated. True, Sledgehammer’s label is a bright “manly??” burnt orange color without any additional graphics or “girly” images. But truthfully, a wine bottle looks like a wine bottle. If a man were truly concerned about what his friends might say if he brought a bottle of wine to a BBQ, the label being orange is not going to be a redeeming factor!
As a side note, Predator Zinfandel, a favorite among the wine drinking men in my life, sounds ferocious in name, but has a ladybug on the bottle. Exactly zero people have ever commented on the name or label because the wine is good!
I’d compare Sledgehammer Zinfandel to Freak Show Zinfandel in that they’re similar in structure and overall flavor profile. If you can find it at $5 a bottle, Sledgehammer is a clear winner based on value alone. But even at it’s regular range of $12-$15, it’s a worthy bottle to try.
It scores zero additional points in my book for being “manly,” though perhaps using a dirty bucket to decant the wine adds to the structure and aroma in a way I haven’t experienced.