Dinner with Isabelle Forêt, the Pioneer of Feminine Wine

It’s not everyday that I get an email that asks me if I want to meet the spokesperson for Wines of France who has also done a study on women’s intrinsic affinity for wine. I was not familiar with Isabelle Forêt before that email so I did what anyone would do, I googled her.

I discovered that not only is Forêt a researcher and wine expert, but she wrote the first wine guide dedicated to women and wine, “Elles & Bacchus” then went on to to write several wine guides called FEMIVIN. Her work around gender and wine has not only made an impact in France, but around the world. This is a woman that I had to meet.

It was important that we went to type of restaurant that fit, the conversation. We made our way to one of the hottest and sexiest French restaurants in the city, Artisanal Bistro. I was surprised that an interpreter joined us for dinner, yet so thankful. While I am taking French, “bonjour” would have only gotten me so far. Upon meeting Forêt, I noticed that she has a subtle yet powerful presence which I tend to find is a common trait with women from France.

While sipping on rosé champagne that she selected, I learned that Forêt is a descendant from three generations of Burgundy winemakers. Her grandmother would put wine on ice cubes and give it to her when she was seven years old. Forêt would also watch her grandmother do ceremonies with wine. Those things wet her appetite for wine and were just the beginning.

Forêt ended up becoming the first female wine journalist in France. She began to notice that women were better at tasting wine than men. That is when she also observed that women were better at taking notes about wine. While men wrote about smells and vintage, women went more into details about emotions and how the wine made them feel. Since the wine world was dominated by men, it was hard to conceive them to listen. That is when she decided to do her first study with scientist that included a blind tasting with men and women in separate rooms. Forêt was proven correct with her observations and had science to back her up. It could not longer be denied that Forêt was a force to be reckoned with in the wine world.

The work that Forêt has been doing really strikes a chord with me, because I do similar work. Women have a serious love affair with wine. It is a part of their lifestyle and becoming even bigger. I want to spark conversation that centers around the sensual aspects of wine. After all, wine does not have to be scary and unattainable, there is so much more to it. At one time it was an offering to gods and goddesses so it has a magickal history. It is an elixir that brings much pleasure and spirituality. It was shocking to learn that when Forêt does research, she funds the work herself. She does not want anything to sway the outcome of her research. Besides her own research, people from around the world send for results from their work so she is on the cusp of what the wine world is discussing.

Some of the observations from her research include:

  • Women’s sense of smell is up to 100 times more subtle and developed than men’s which is why the smell of wine provides women with more intense feelings of pleasure than men

  • 50% of men are impressed by women who know about wine and can pick one that pairs well with a meal

  • Women are more likely to respond to a men who drink red wines because they emulate and magnify the scent of male pheromones

  • Champagne can influence the libido because it carries the sexual hormone, Gonadotropin

Currently, Forêt is currently working on her a new book to promote the “French touch” which will focus on the romantic and love aspects of wine. You can also read her english language blog, Wine Woman World. It’s not common for me to be in awe of someone, but I have to say that Forêt left me speechless at times during dinner.

Woman buy more wine that men and this will probably increase as time goes on. I hope that we learn from women like Forêt, take the torch, and run with it.

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