Many wineries feed off sexualized female stereotypes and produce labels that are meant to create sales through shock value. A few bottles that immediately come to mind are "B*tch" (with the pink label and "B*tch" written in big black letters), and "Menage-A-Trois" (a blend of three grapes with a saucy name). This kind of marketing is even more rampant in the beer world. I have yet to meet a sommelier who takes these wines seriously-- they are obvious in their classless appeal for sales through shock value alone. When what is inside the bottle is highly uninteresting, a label screaming for attention will push more cases. Most of us see through these marketing ploys and would never promote such a wine, and yet, the same sommelier might turn around and write a similar-premised tasting note. If cheap sexualized marketing is not OK for wineries to do, why do we accept it blindly in tasting notes?
Allow me to explain: I bristle when someone describes a wine as "masculine" or "feminine." What does that even mean, anyway? If any wine could be masculine or feminine, that would be one thing. But it's always lighter-style, delicate wines that are "feminine" and high-alcohol tannin monsters that are "masculine." It puts wine on a scale of weak/delicate to strong/bold, and then sexualizes that scale by insinuating that women are weak and delicate and that men are strong and bold. Describing wine as "masculine" or "feminine" buttresses this sexist misconception. My grandmother, for instance, is bolder and more powerful than Hulk Holgan; there are multiple meanings to the word "strength." But if you are someone who wants to look at "strength" in a purely physical way, pick ten random guys off the street-- I'm sure I could beat several of them at arm wrestling.
Unfortunately, most of the female stereotypes referenced in wine tasting notes are dismissive toward women, and this pattern in our vocabulary should be broken. As long as this type of language is accepted, the world of wine will never be a place where men and women can work on an equal playing field.
Sometimes, you'll experience an almost transportative experience when you drink wine, and I love reading about these experiences-- it's poetic. Wine is linked to human experience, and when wine writers put this into perspective for you, it is often fantastic. But there is a difference between descriptive prose/reflexive context and writing a technical tasting note about how a wine reminds you of a sexy or unsexy woman. If the purpose of a published tasting note is to contextualize the flavors, what have we learned from soft-porn, wine-inspired fantasies? Nothing.
We should expand our vocabulary. Try using words like "structure," "power," "delicacy," and "nuance;" all of which can be used to describe both males and females. Purchase a thesaurus, or use the one that is probably already on your computer. Challenge yourself to see if you can go at least one week without using a gender-specific term to describe wine. Once I made myself consciously start to do this, I found that I got much better at speaking about wine. Instead of falling back on meaningless words like "masculine," I forced myself to become fluent in a whole new world of descriptive language.
If you look at the structure of a professional tasting note as recommended by the Court of Masters or the WSET, there is no place in the note where you must indicate if the wine tastes male or female to you. This is because wine is not male or female, and when we sexualize it as such, I believe that this confuses the drinker even more.