Interesting article by Rémy Charest in Punch Drink here: http://punchdrink.com/articles/sex-sexism-and-the-natural-wine-label/
Thoughtful stuff. I generally like the article, particularly that it does not set out to judge the trend. Read the article first, then read the below, if you wish.
There are a couple of things I would have liked to see discussed in the article:
Firstly, in Western Europe, at least, after decades of sexual liberation from the late 1960’ies through, perhaps, the 1990’ies, we are now going through a phase of great sexual conservatism in the public space. Beaches in my own Denmark used to be full of stark-naked people, with no-one frowning at that, and nakedness was accepted as natural and generally harmless in advertisement etc. That is no longer the case. Nudity at beaches seems drastically reduced and apparently requires you to be a dedicated nudist, practicing your predilection at specific beaches or specific sections of beaches. Nudity in advertisement is generally frowned upon. Now, I am not arguing that everyone should run around naked and that all advertisment should feature unclad people, but I worry that the public frowning-upon of nudity and sexuality generates some very negative images in people in terms of their own bodies and sexuality, the acceptability if their bodies and sexuality, and the general fact of them having bodies and/or sexuality at all. Are we raising an entire generation to be acutely negatively body-conscious? Could the natural wine crowd – habitually counter-current and iconoclastic – also (knowingly or unwittingly) be reacting to the new (or, rather, old) prudishness? If so, I think that aspect should be welcomed.
Secondly, inebriation, lack of inhibition and sexuality are inextricably linked. Entire religions have been founded upon the combination, with Dionysus/Bacchus leading the way. The natural wine crowd generally sees itself as less inhibited, less mainstream than people at large, and also generally praises the drinkability and non-hangover-inducing aspects of their wines, even if there is probably little evidence for these aspects other than personal perception, heavily tinged by confirmation bias. There is a celebration of the sensuous aspects of life in the natural wine ethos, a typically big-city dream of connection with the soil and the primordial aspects of life (it is my contention that natural wine is chiefly a big-city phenomenon). The natural wine ethos certainly has some remarkably metaphysical sides to it, and a celebration of nudity and sexuality, for me at least, rhymes well with the historical metaphysical aspects of wine.
I personally think most of the labels mentioned are crass and rather sophomoric in their humour, but I cannot be offended or think there is something intrinsically wrong with them. Indeed, I welcome some of the aspects that these labels conjure up. Yes, by all means, do also feature naked men on labels, or even erotic content. We don’t need more inhibited people, we need more uninhibited people.
And remember, wine was invented so that ugly men would also have a chance:-)