Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 65, Summer 2008   
What is Wine?What is Wine?  Contents 
Issue 64, June 2008 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 66, September 2008

What is Wine?


 The question can sound silly and maybe it is silly indeed: whoever could answer - with no hesitation - to a simple question like that. And with even less hesitation would answer all the supporters of the beverage of Bacchus. Despite the apparent simplicity of a question like that, we believe the answer is not so easy, it is likely this is a question requiring many answers and not simple ones. Wine is a beverage, this is something we all probably agree on. However it is not a beverage like many: wine has played a cultural, traditional and, very often, ritual roles in the societies where it has been produced and is still produced today. Undoubtedly, wine is also a popular beverage, an indispensable support to the life of countryside people and of the areas committed to agriculture, in those places where wine has always been produced and it represented more than a simple beverage, even considered a “food”.


 

 Today the image of wine has radically changed, it probably had never got so much attention in the course of its history like the one it is getting in these times. Wine is discussed everywhere, among friends, in the press, television, radio, advertising: wine is everywhere. Not only wine is widely discussed: it frequently becomes a subject for the elite, one of those subjects giving people a more “intelligent” and “refined” dignity. Maybe they talked about wine too much, maybe in an inadequate way as well, most of the times using a language which made people staying away from wine instead of catching their attention. Certain terms and certain forms of language have indisputably contributed to make people believe wine is something complicated, something which cannot be understood, and sometimes - by reading some notes and some remarks - it seems they are talking about everything but wine. Ridiculous terms have only confused consumers, most of the times making them laugh.

 The reason of this interest is certainly associated to cultural and traditional factors, as well as passion, but it is indisputable one of the main factors responsible of such an interest is of economic nature. It would be silly to deny this: in the world of wine there are colossal economic interests - connected both to the production and the image as well - and it is therefore good this interest to stay alive. Whether there is an interest for wine, of course, it is something every supporter of the beverage of Bacchus wishes, however, when this interest becomes, like to say, spoiled, then the thing may also become disturbing. Experts of any sort - or presumed ones - make use of a showing off of knowledge, made of improbable and ridiculous words which make people staying away from wine instead of catching their interest. Nevertheless, wine, in its indisputable complexity, has the main quality of simplicity of immediateness and does not have any pretension but to give an emotion or to satisfy a need, according to one's point of view or to what one looks for in a wine.

 In this sense, it is almost impossible to resist to the temptation of mentioning the very funny sommelier character invented by the good comical actor Antonio Albanese: an intelligent caricature in which can be easily recognized the “ridiculous” behaviors of many “experts”. In this sense, Antonio Albanese has “hit the target”, although by making use of the licit exaggeration theater allows when it is needed to emphasize certain behaviors in order to make them ridiculous. Of course, we are not criticizing the professionalism and importance of sommeliers: their job, in case it is done with discretion, competence and, above all, savoir-faire, is certainly important for the spreading and knowledge of wine. It is however indisputable some “behaviors” make the people staying away from wine who, at the moment of choosing a wine, being afraid of making the wrong choice or to look like an inexpert, they avoid it and choose other simple beverages which do not need any complexity.

 What is therefore a wine? A beverage having its roots in tradition and culture, simple and immediate, or a beverage which must be complicated no matter what and distant from people? Maybe it is because it is needed “complicated” words in order to define a wine, to make use of ridiculous behaviors and to show off knowledge, that a wine is often considered complicated? Wine certainly is a complex beverage, but in its complexity, it can also be extremely simple: depends on what one looks for in a wine. One thing is however certain: as long as they will make of wine a complex beverage, according to a cultural and informative point of view, people will believe they are not capable of understanding it and they will therefore keep wine at a certain distance, something which distinguishes the ones who can appreciate it - but not the ones who abuse of it - and which cannot be understood.

 This does not however mean wine must be considered trivial or banal: the effect would be even worse, while increasing - maybe - the custom of making of it an excessive and deprecable use. However, also making of wine a beverage for the elite, complicated no matter what, it is not the best thing to do. Wine is a cultural and traditional heritage of the places where it has always been present in the life of people and, as such, must be heritage of everyone, not only of those who want to make wine into something different and that with wine has nothing in common. Words are important, they have the primary function of allowing everyone to understand a concept, not to make it incomprehensible. In case something is incomprehensible, therefore it is also useless: no one knows what to do with something he or she does not understand or does not know how to use it. He or she may probably pretend to understand it or to use it, and, of course, this is not the same thing and it is not useful to the spreading of wine culture. Because wine is culture, because wine is simply wine.

 




   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 65, Summer 2008   
What is Wine?What is Wine?  Contents 
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