First Sex, Now Wine

 Remember Ruth Westheimer? If you do, you’re probably a Baby Boomer or older.

Dr. Ruth, as she’s called, is aDr. Ruth debuts line of low-alcohol wines gnome-like creature who exploded in popularity during the 1980s as a sex therapist. The New York Times described her as a “cultural icon,” a woman who ignited “a new age of freer, franker talk about sex on radio and television.” Her basic message—that people needed to take the responsibility for their own sexual satisfaction with their partners—was quite radical for the uptight America of the time.

Now 84, Dr. Ruth is still dispensing advice about sex, although I don’t watch enough TV to know if she’s a regular part of the landscape. She’s staging a comeback of sorts, having recently published a book and been the focus of a BBC documentary. Her latest project is a line of low-alcohol wines called Vin d’Amour (Wine of Love).

“I’m always saying couples should drink to relax, but not too much,” said the grandmotherly sex guru. “My idea is that just the right amount of alcohol will awaken your senses and arouse you.”

The Vin d’Amour wines (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel) are made from California grapes and contain 6% alcohol, compared to the 14-15% that has become the new normal in the Golden State. They’re being described in press releases as “wine products,” which implies they’ve been adulterated in some way. Regardless of the production process, they’re probably quite sweet, since a wine at 6% usually contains a great deal of residual sugar (sugar not converted to alcohol). Whatever they are, I see some potential problems:

1. Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, according to tolerance and body mass. Your passions may be aroused with one glass of 6% wine, or it may take several glasses at 14% (or more, depending on what your partner looks like). Who’s to determine how much alcohol is the “right amount”? Dr. Ruth, apparently. To her, one size fits all.

2. American consumers don’t buy wines with foreign names, according to almost all the market research, because they don’t know what the name means and are afraid of mispronouncing it.

3. Dr. Ruth may be late coming to the party, but wine has been arousing passions for thousands of years. All wine is love.


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