Sunday, June 10, 2018

Naked Vine One-Hitter: Tom of Finland – a Wine for Pride

Touko Laaksonen was born in 1920. He studied advertising, served in the Finnish army during WWII, and began drawing strongly masculine figures during the 1950’s. In 1957, he submitted his work to an American magazine called Physique Pictorial under the pseudonym “Tom.” The editor of the magazine added the now famous place-based tagline.

Tom of Finland, now one of the best known homoerotic artists in history, was born.

Sixty years later, the foundation he helped establish in 1984 has released Tom of Finland 2016 OUTstanding Red in celebration of Pride Month.

Tom of Finland’s artwork created the visual template for several gay subcultures. The biker look, with its attendant leathers, featured as prominently as the models’ anatomy in many of his images. He had a particular fascination, especially early in his fame, with soldiers (particularly German ones) in and out of uniform. (Do a Google Image search for "Tom of Finland" for examples -- but remember the results will be NSFW.) A biopic about Tom of Finland’s life was released to positive reviews in 2017. 

The wine, which retails for $25/bottle in certain markets, yields a portion of the proceeds directly to the Tom of Finland Foundation, which “promotes human rights and sexual expression through art.”

The wine itself is a Petit Sirah-dominant blend. About half the remaining blend is Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, with a tad of Merlot to round out the cuvee. The fruit is sourced from the Lodi and Sierra Foothills regions of California.

For a wine with a robust combination of grapes like that, I found it to be remarkably well-balanced. The Petit Sirah gives it a strong blueberry and blackberry backbone alongside the pepperiness you’d expect from Zinfandel. The pepper doesn’t overwhelm, though, allowing the cassis of the Cabernet to carry through. The fruit-to-tannin balance of this wine can’t be understated. The finish is blueberry, cocoa, and a little bit of leather, the last of which would have undoubtedly pleased Mr. Laaksonen.

Overall, I thought this was a very easy-drinking wine which would work either on its own or with food. Tom himself would undoubtedly have expected a degree of hedonism with wine carrying his name, and one could certainly use this muscular tipple for pleasant purposes.

The wine can be purchased from

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