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  Editorial Issue 158, January 2017   
The Art of WineThe Art of Wine  Contents 
Issue 157, December 2016 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 159, February 2017

The Art of Wine


 Wine is art. I have no doubts about this. From the moment wine appeared in the history of human beings, or better to say, of what we know about our past, it is evident it always played a role of primary importance. Wine, just like art, has always been capable of arousing emotions and sentiments while becoming, virtually from the very moment of its “birth”, important element of cultures, pagan and religious rites. Wine has the capability - like to say - of joining the sacred to profane, by becoming the central beverage of bacchanals and joyous moments, as well as a fundamental element in the solemnity of some religious rites. Wine is also an element identifying people and their lands, as well as becoming the subject of ideological clashes and supposed superiority. An aspect, this latter one, still alive today and going far beyond the simple evaluation based on matters of taste only.


 

 Wine, moreover, becomes art. From the moment in which it is given life to a new vineyard and the vines are being planted to the moment in which wine is poured on a glass. Walking down the vineyard, you in fact realize the art revealing in the rows, not only expression of vines and what Nature teaches them, but also of how men interpret them. Walking down a producer's vineyard - something clearly more interesting than the view of casks, barrels and tanks - gives the chance to understand the relationship that producer has with wine. His or her wine, of course. Because it is how the vintner takes care of the vineyard you understand what wine he or she will make from those grapes. It is not about a matter of “order”, something you would see in an ornamental garden - after all, even chaos is capable of expressing art - indeed it is about how the vines grow up and express their grapes. However, there is no doubt about this, a certain order in the vineyard is needed according to the type of wine to be produced. This too is art.

 Wine is also technique, a word that - apparently - seems to have no connection to art. Technique is however art, something confirmed even by its etymological meaning, as this word comes from Greek τέχνη (téchne), which meaning is art, strongly associated to the capability of “knowing how”. The capability of knowing how to do something is indispensable to the concrete expression of art as, without this, it is not possible to achieve the fundamental process of transformation into an element which can be shared with others. Wine is no exception to this condition, as wine is made and it is made by men who interpret, according to their own art, what they cultivate in the vineyard and transform in the cellar. Just like a painter who transforms colors through art, therefore creating a painting expressed through brushes and canvas, the same is for the vintner who transforms grapes according to his or her own art.

 There is not a unique form of art only - as it can be clearly expressed in endless forms and cultures - and the same is true for wine, as it is not something expressed according to a unique method or way. Another element common both to art and wine is the property of arousing passion in persons, sometimes with lively debates conducted by supporters in their respective sides. The same is clearly happening with other artistic expressions, such as music, painting, photography and cooking. There are some who love wine exclusively produced according to certain techniques or school of thoughts, others love something different and, in both cases, they deny and disregard the expression opposite to their taste. The same is happening for those who support a certain musical band, who likes that and only that, while criticizing the other ones which are seen as a sort of negation to their taste or musical preference. It is undeniable they both are art, expression of the human genius who conceived, expressed and interpreted it.

 The charm of wine in human beings is incredibly vast and noble. I do not think it is because of alcohol, although I understand history gave us and keep on giving us tangible proofs about the relationship, even at a sacred and ritual level, human beings have with alcoholic beverages. To tell the truth, it should be said alcoholic beverages have been used - even today - to cause a supposed ecstatic condition capable of connecting man, or the ministries of certain cults, to gods and to favor communication. The case of wine is however singular. If we consider an alcoholic beverage can be obtained from the simple fermentation of any substance containing sugar - therefore not only grape juice - it is evident wine has a special dignity. A strong element of traditional and cultural identification, wine has been successful in making people living in distant lands to dream. Not to mention the many praises about the wines of the past and of which we can read in very ancient documents, such those, for example, written by Pliny the Elder, Horace, Martial, Columella and Varro.

 What we then should say about wine in the art? The noble beverage of Bacchus has frequently been subject or complement in countless paintings, not to mention poetry, prose and music. If it is true art is realized through senses - those of the one who is expressing it, those of the ones who are perceiving it - it is evident sensorial tasting too is art, that is the art of interpreting art. It should be said the art of wine would not exist without the essential contribution of territory and land, last but not the least, man who uses these elements as a hypothetical palette used to paint a wine. Every element is equally essential, likewise it is fundamental the use one makes of the single elements in order to combine them into a finished work, an interpretation which cannot necessarily have a unique vision. As opposed to tangible and repeatable art, wine art can be enjoyed just once and not by all. After having poured it in a glass, in fact, a wine gives his memory only to those who have been capable of enjoying it. Who would have ever said this? Much ado about “simple” fermented grape juice?

Antonello Biancalana






   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 158, January 2017   
The Art of WineThe Art of Wine  Contents 
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