PEOPLE who know me know I love a drop (or two or 10,000 or however many drops makes a bottle) of booze, but this week’s outrage over sexist wine labels was a bit too hard to swallow.

If you missed it: McLaren Vale winery D’Arenberg was accused of sexism over the name of its new red: “The Old Bloke and the Three Young Blondes”.

The name apparently refers to the blend of grapes from old and young vines, but wine commentator Jane Thomson thought it was an example of casual sexism, and said so on her popular Facebook page. Her post went viral, The Advertiser picked up the story, and a prolonged debate ensued.

All of this surprise publicity is actually a huge help for D’Arenberg, because before this story hit the news the entire first page of Google results for “old bloke and three young blondes” linked to websites you couldn’t view at work. Or in front of your kids. Or anywhere other human beings were present, really. (Seriously, don’t Google it.)

Now only eight of the top 10 results are for hardcore porn, which I think we can all agree is a real win for D’Arenberg’s online marketing team.

Despite these X-rated connections, a poll on The Advertiser website which attracted more than 1100 votes showed more than 90 per cent of readers didn’t find the label sexist.

Given every time I write a column involving the word “feminism” I get scores of comments calling me a feminazi man-hater, I’m not entirely sure I trust online commenters to accurately judge whether something is sexist or not. But hey, 90 per cent is 90 per cent. And in this instance, I agree.

Simply referring to “young blondes” in the title of something does not automatically make that something “sexist”. There’s no sexist imagery on the label; it’s totally benign, with a plain white rectangle and some silhouette heads, so one has to jump through several mental hoops to get to the conclusion that something dodgy is going on.

It’s even possible the “blondes” could be blokes themselves, unless you’re one of those dictionary huggers who asserts that putting the “e” on the end makes it feminine. (Hi, mum.)

But while I don’t agree with Ms Thomson, I applaud her for provoking a discussion about “every day sexism”: the type of sexism so normalised we barely even register that it exists.

Every day sexism is when women get letters addressed “Dear Sir”. It’s when a woman’s bank automatically puts her husband’s name first on their joint account. It’s people not questioning their right to comment on a woman’s appearance in any given situation.

And funnily enough, it is extremely prevalent in wine marketing.

Just walk down the rose/moscato/whatever-is-cheap-and-sweet aisle of your local grog shop, where every second bottle is cynically marketed to women (or, at least, some marketing dude’s idea of what a woman is) with labels featuring love hearts, or big pink lipsmacks.

One range comes with hideous plastic necklaces you can pluck off the bottle and wear yourself, should you wish to look like a three-year-old who just opened a particularly bad Christmas cracker. In my local this week I even saw a new range of moscato that comes in a cardboard cask shaped like a handbag.

Although, unlike a real handbag, you can’t open it up and vomit into it when you’ve finished, so I’m not sure how useful it is.

It’s like they think we women are all brain-dead zombies in lipstick and heels who’ll buy any old lolly water as long as it’s pink and got a sparkly label.

Ditching those sexist wine labels? I’ll drink to that.


First published in The Advertiser, February 20, 2016. CLICK HERE for the original article.