The adage, “wine improves with time,” usually refers to the many years wine rests in temperature-controlled cellars, allowing the chemistry and alchemy to enhance the palate experience. In the case of the OUTstanding Red wine from Tom of Finland, the time to wait is much shorter and can be counted in hours and days and not years.
When I opened the bottle a few evenings ago, I allowed it to breathe for a few minutes and then did all the usual things – I dug into my pigment vocabulary to find the right words to describe the hue (deep dark crimson red), then I put my nose to the glass to inhale the fragrance (ripe berries and cherries, chocolate and wood, licorice and spice) and finally (growing impatient), I sipped the wine and let my palate (and all my other senses) engage in the sensory wine experience.
At the beginning the wine was pleasant and interesting – but a bit too cherry/berry for me. I was not in a rush (I was enjoying music at a jazz concert), so I continued to sip it slowly throughout the performance. Much to my delight, as the evening progressed, the wine opened and blossomed, gaining a depth of taste and smell that was a delicious surprise.
Sadly, the evening ended – but…there was wine left in the bottle! Leave it for the waiters? Throw it away? No – I recorked it and took it home, stuck it in the refrigerator and went to sleep. The next evening, I took the bottle out the refrigerator, let it warm to room temperature (for over an hour), poured it into a glass and took a sip! It was even better! The longer it was opened, the better it got.
The spiciness comes from Zinfandel, Merlot provides softness and a lush quality and blends well with the sterner, later-ripening and higher tannin Cabernet Sauvignon that also adds eucalyptus and cassis. It is the Petite Syrah that provides the sweetness. Tom of Finland’s OUTstanding Red deserves to be an addition to a wine collection.
Not a One Night Stand
This is a wine that lasts longer than a one-night stand. The TOF wine is intended as a tribute to the art of Touko Laaksonen, a Finnish artist who died in 1991. In 1957, Laaksonen started a cultural movement with his iconic homoerotic art and is considered and respected as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His works are part of permanent collections in museums throughout the world.
During his lifetime Laaksonen was involved in producing two documentaries: Boots, Biceps and Bulges: The Life and Works of Tom of Finland (1988); and Muscle Academy (1981). His work has influenced global cultures, including lifestyles, political tolerance, music, design, fashion and art.
Tom believed in pleasure and enjoyment of life that included indulging ones sensual side plus an appreciation of self-expression, openness and freedom. The wine is a manifestation of this legendary artist and his philosophy.
Doing Good While Enjoying TOF
Laaksonen’s name has been licensed since his death to promote many products including the OUTstanding RED that launched in Finland in 2016 and is available (direct to consumers) in the $20+ price range. The Tom of Finland Foundation, a non-profit organization (1984) started by Laaksonen and Durk Dehner, acts as the largest archive of the late artist’s prolific collection, and produces a series of artist-in-residency programs, art fairs, and exhibitions
The wines are produced in California in partnership with the Tom of Finland Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to “educate the public as to the cultural merits of erotic art and the promotion of healthier, more tolerant attitudes toward sexuality through experiential workshops, residencies and exhibitions.”
Tom of Finland’s art work is noted as an important gay iconography in the world. With every purchase of Tom of Finland Wines’ OUTstanding Red, a portion of the proceeds is donated directly to the Tom of Finland Foundation, promoting human rights and sexual expression through artwork. For additional information, click here.
© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.