Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  Editorial Issue 122, October 2013   
About Men and WinesAbout Men and Wines  Contents 
Issue 121, September 2013 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 123, November 2013

About Men and Wines


 Wine exists because of the existence of men. Vine, for its legitimate biological and survival needs, would have never made wine. Not even vinegar. Nature, it is well evident, has no interest in wine: it simply is a product having no use for Nature's needs and goals. On the other hand, man really does: it is since tens of centuries, year after year, he keeps on making this enjoyable beverage, for his own pleasure, as well as for affirming his commercial skill and, with that, the chance of making an economic profit. With time, man has given wine many meanings, ritual and sacred ones, as well as becoming an essential element of social life with which have been celebrated the most significant and important moments of history. To the wine was also given less noble meanings, quite disreputable, because of its well known effects on the health, something usually happening when one abuses of it or exceeds on its consumption.


 

 A versatile beverage, just like many things created by man, it gets a different meaning according to traditions, history, culture and social contexts. Vine - which notoriously is a liana and, for its nature, creeps to trees and other things in order to get a reliable support - it has been domesticated in order to favor its cultivation according to “man's needs” and to make wine. Wine does exist because man exists. Etruscans understood the “wild” nature of the vine, in times before the ancient Greeks arrived to Italy. Etruscans were not used to drink a lot of wine, they however understood its commercial value and therefore they made it. Some Etruscan amphora have been found even in Burgundy, probably used for transporting wine, even though it is not clear how Etruscan wine actually reached Burgundy. Etruscans favored the nature of vine and let it creeping to the trunk of high trees.

 The ancient viticultural technique called alberata - that is allowing the vine to creep on trees - a technique almost disappeared today, was in fact an Etruscan technique, then abandoned when ancient Greeks arrived to Italy and spread their viticultural techniques. Everything however had the very same goal: cultivating the vine in order to allow wine production. Vine, it is very likely, did not have any interest in this forced change. It is not however a price paid for nothing and without having anything in return. Also vine, undoubtedly, did benefit of evident advantages from the interest showed by men for the production of wine. Vine today is widely spread all over the world, the activity of research done by men allowed the improvement of its species through clonal selection. For the sake of truth, it should be noticed man has also caused the risk of vine extinction, such as in case of phylloxera or some miserable phytosanitary practices.

 The result has however been extraordinary: a marriage between man and Nature which allowed - wine just like many other products - the production of a beverage of such a high cultural, social and anthropological value. An old saying reminds us that you can learn from your own mistakes, and this is what certainly happened in the complex interaction between man and Mature in the production of wine. Like to say, Nature provided the essential elements for the production of wine - vine and territory, above all - man, by making use of his genius, culture, passion and honesty, has been successful in taking advantage of these conditions in order to make a noble beverage. The concept of nobility certainly is a relative matter and, by considering what sometimes is being poured in glasses, the borderline between nobility and roughness is frequently uncertain, if not incomprehensible. Roughness in wine is frequently kept hidden by ignoble reasons of commercial or cultural speculation and, sad to say, they frequently are successful in their rough goal.

 There are, lucky us, many and extraordinary examples of men who worked for the keeping and the development of wine nobility. Men who kept themselves behind the scenes and away from definitions, labels, fashion and speculation of the moment, who preferred to make wine by listening to their passion and culture, instead of selling an empty “fashionable definition” with which concealing their wines. Many of them, after having given a fundamental contribution, also to the advantage of all the other ones who today make wine or work in this world - and this certainly is a noble intent - have been then discredited or denied. Besides the infamous proof of ingratitude, it is also the proof there are many who sometimes talk about subjects and men without knowing their history, origin, works and importance. They simply open their mouths, talk in order to say something. These “subjects” too - unfortunately - are by many considered “men of wine”.

 Writing a list of these great men who have contributed in such a high and fundamental way to the history of wine would be very hard, also because I would risk to unjustly omit someone. It would also be harder to write a list of those who today denies the work of these great men - subjects who think, poor them, to be even better - and who cannot understand without their work, today many of them would simply have a different job. A job probably not about wine. As far as I am concerned, I believe I am grateful to many persons, also to those I have never personally met but who however taught me a lot with what they wrote or did. I owe the same gratitude to all the ones I personally know - some of them honor me with their precious friendship and esteem - and I am aware of the fact I did not give them in return as much as they taught me. Last but not the least, I am also grateful to all the wines I tasted so far: they too taught me a lot - for better or for worse - not only their history and life, but also the ones of those men who made them.

Antonello Biancalana






   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 122, October 2013   
About Men and WinesAbout Men and Wines  Contents 
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