19 December 2008

NV Jarhead Red

Here's a wine that represents what I feel are two positive trends in the American wine industry:

1) Wines that support a charity, in this case the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships for the children of wounded or fallen Marines.

2) Wines that, through name and label design, appeal to a masculine audience.

The first is a noble cause and should be self-explanatory, but let me go into a little more depth on the second trend. For the past few generations, wine in this country has been seen as either a drink for women or for the wealthy/artsy/intellectual/effeminate, and the working/middle-class men stuck to beer or spirits. This is slowly changing, and you can see wines like Red Truck, Three Thieves, and Desolation Flats that are obviously marketed towards Joe Sixpack. It's important to bring new wine drinkers into the fold, and such labeling is an excellent way to do that.

For the guys out there that still think of wine as a girly drink, get over it. The Norwegian version of 'cheers!' is skål, which means 'skull'. This goes back to the practice of Vikings drinking wine* out of the hollowed-out skulls of their enemies. The Roman empire was fueled by wine and a thousand years later the Spanish burned and pillaged their way through two continents while planting vineyards. I'd make the case that wine is perhaps the manliest beverage on earth, second only to the harsh rum of Newfoundland called screech.

Reporting for duty in this noble crusade is the non-vintage Jarhead Red, $12, 13.5% abv. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Central Coast of California. It can use a bit of decanting, after which it has a plum jam profile with a peppery finish. Medium tannins, firm body, and other dark fruit flavors linger on the finish. Notice that the label of this wine features neither flowers nor elegant script. There's stenciled letters, an image of the flag raising at Iwo Jima, and a dominant red white and blue motif. It's the kind of wine that R. Lee Ermey would crack open with his teeth, swallowing the broken glass on general principle. I elected for a more digestible burger and fries, where the wine performed as an admirable pairing.

On a personal note, my maternal grandfather served in the Marine Corps during WWII. He was in his late 20s by then and based on his civilian experience with the USPS, spent most of the war working in the Military Post Office of San Francisco, which handled all military mail headed throughout the Pacific. Of course, he was a tall and strong man, having played college football in the days of leather helmets and no padding, and like all Marines was expected to be able to grab a rifle and head to the front lines at any time. My grandfather turns 93 this month, and while he doesn't talk much these days I was able to spend some time with him ten years ago compiling an oral history of his wartime life.

This holiday season, also keep in mind the Marines' Toys for Tots program. At that site you can either make an online donation or find a local drop-off for toys.

*The Vikings had good taste in wine, and stole a lot of it from the Mediterranean during their raids. DNA evidence of these voyages can be seen today in the occasional redheads that pop up in Sicily, northern Italy, and on the Food Network in the form of Mario Batali.

6 comments:

Samantha Dugan said...

Benito,
Interesting that there are people that think of wine as a female beverage...my life started at the shop where I work so what I have seen there is all I have to draw on, and men have always been the big buyers there. Women do the "daily" wine buying, (wines under $20.00) but the heavy hitters or big buyers, (collectors) are always men. So for me wine has always been more of a male thing....the gathering of highly rated, trophy wines has always struck me as so male.

I will try and find that Jar Head Red, it's amazing to me how many wines from California that I have never heard about.

Benito said...

Samantha,

I think it's more of a flyover country thing, or maybe just a Southern thing. Up until a few years ago I knew guys that liked wine but absolutely refused to be seen drinking it in public or ordering it in a restaurant. Or go to a party or BBQ and one end of the table has beer, the other end has a few bottles of White Zin and Chardonnay, and the crowd self segregates like it was a set of restrooms.

This isn't to stereotype men, Southerners, or anyone else--just observed patterns, and if it takes Mario Andretti or Fess Parker to convince a guy that it's OK to drink wine, then I'm all for it.

Samantha Dugan said...

Could not agree more, "drink more wine dudes...girls think it's hot".

Allen said...

Ben
Thanks for this post. It is a good thing.

Those that have served and given their lives so that we can enjoy freedom deserve our support.

God bless America.

Allen

The Wine Commonsewer said...

The red stripe represents The Battle of Chapultepec, forever memorialized in the opening of the Marine Hymn.

From the Halls of Montezuma.....

Anonymous said...

Thanks For supporting the troops.
Bill Ragan MSgt USMC (ret)