Scarcely hours after female chess players were told to button-up or be banned from chess competitions, women wine judges were ordered to dress down during wine competition panel tastings or face being expelled from premier South African wine shows.
“We had to take action against the provocative dress code certain female judges have been following lately,” a spokesperson for the South African Domestic Wine Show Union said.
“When tasting wine, one needs all your senses focused on the glass before you, particularly smell and taste. A women sitting next to you at an important judging session wearing a low-cut dress or showing bare shoulders shifts the attention away from one’s senses of smell and taste to that of sight. And this can be most off-putting.
“As any male judge and certain female judges will tell you, it is very hard analysing an un-wooded Chardonnay whilst looking at provocatively exposed mammary glands. It makes the wine taste funny, too.”
In future, wine competitions wishing to gain the SA Domestic Wine Show Union’s seal of approval will have to see that female judges cover up accordingly so as to avoid causing any distraction among fellow judges.
According to one winemaker heading up a judging panel at the Veritas Wine Awards, the ban on off-putting female flesh is to be welcomed.
“Last year our panel got totally lost when a fellow judge removed her cardigan to show a cleavage you could roll a barrique through,” he said. “It took the other judges an hour to get through 10 wines as they had to relook each glass about seven times. Whenever our fellow lady judge leaned forward to spit, the other guys did not know whether they were tasting on the Pinotage or Sauvignon Blanc panel. Heavy breathing also ensued, and we almost had a choking incident. It’s a bloody health-risk.”
But Ms Judy Locutt, well-known wine judge from Waterkloof in Pretoria, says the latest ruling is just another way for male-dominated competition panels to keep women away from judging panels.
“I don’t go making a scene about male judges with chest hair sprouting from their Pringle golf shirts or the men in ball-clenching tight kaki shorts with whom we girls have to contend with during wine judging,” she said. “It’s all another boring attempt to keep real women away from judging panels.”
Tim Uys, fishing writer and wine judge, said Ms Locutt had to remember that by exposing bare flesh during wine judging the ladies concerned were posing a health risk to fellow panel members.
“Some of the South Africa’s wine judges are in their twilight years and many have undisclosed medical conditions,” says Uys. “The excitement caused by the sight of a bit of cleavage or flash of thigh could really put one of the old-timers over the top, causing a stroke or heart-attack. Whilst we respect women for their ability to taste wine, we cordially ask them to respect the weaknesses and frailty of some of their fellow judges.”