Wine Culture and Information since 2002 - Volume 20
×
Home Page Events Wine Guide Wine of the Day Aquavitae Wine Places Guide Podcast Polls EnoGames EnoForum Serving Wine Alcohol Test
DiWineTaste on Twitter DiWineTaste on Instagram DiWineTaste Mobile for Android DiWineTaste Mobile for iOS Become a Registered User Subscribe to the Mailing List Tell a Friend About DiWineTaste Download DiWineTaste Card
About Us Write Us Back Issues Advertising General Index
Privacy Policy
 
☰ Menu


   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 205, April 2021   
Once Upon a Time There Was WineOnce Upon a Time There Was Wine  Contents 
Issue 204, March 2021 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 206, May 2021

Once Upon a Time There Was Wine


 Umbria is the region where I was born. To be precise, near the medieval walls of Perugia, the capital city of the region. It is normal, indeed inevitable, the first wines of which I can remember of were Umbrian. Of course, they were not wines as we can imagine them today. In those days, the wine that came to the table to accompany meals was most likely produced by some relatives – either close or not – or by some trusted family friends. In any case, it was bulk wine and which was taken directly from the source and with that were filled corpulent demijohns. Then followed the rite, a family rite, which provided for the bottling of the demijohns, by using bottles rigorously saved and reused after appropriate and scrupulous washing. Those who did not have friends or relatives into viticulture, or however into home wine making, filled their demijohns either with the wine of some “trusted” farmers or by going directly to the nearest winery.


 

 Bottled wines, that is, those as we understand them today, were served at the table only on special occasions, such as anniversaries or main holidays of the year. In most cases, it was sparkling wine, that is the type of wine practically impossible to get from a trusted friend or relative or from the local winery. Thinking back about those wines today, they make me somewhat smile for the quality that certainly was not impeccable, especially when compared with those we are used to today. Of course, I do not mean in those days quality wines were not produced: indeed they were produced, however they were not yet part of the mass culture of wine and the “common people” rarely bought them. Not only for personal financial reasons, but – precisely – because of a cultural and traditional fact of attributing to the wine, so to speak, a “family” dimension or however a matter of territorial identity, something belonging to the place where you were born or lived. Wine was a “home” or “family” matter, therefore a strongly identifying element.

 Not to mention the “competitions” between small producers – grandparents, uncles, friends, trusted farmers – with the aim of affirming the undisputed quality of the fruit of their own vineyard and talent, most of the times by denigrating the wine of others. They were not really peaceful discussions, they were not even resolved with “a bottle shared with friends”, as most of the time the wine of others was even refused, suspecting the presence of unspeakable or very serious faults. Thinking back to those wines today, in fact, faults were the dominant characteristic of all of them, some more, some less, but they certainly did not shine for “quality”. Of course, at that time, not much else was known, so it was difficult, indeed, impossible, to make comparisons. Moreover, whenever it happened to drink bottled wines – produced by real wineries, including local wineries – many were reluctant to admit the evident higher quality. Indeed, that unusual quality – presumed or real – was seen with indignant suspicion, certainly the result of who knows what abominable adulteration through who knows what, and never specified, chemical aids or additives.

 In most cases, whenever I was having the chance to drink the wine of a “home producer”, the offer of the glass was always followed by the triumphant reassurance that to make that wine “nothing had been added”. More than a declaration of genuineness, it rather seemed a warning against all the other wines, without any distinction, which certainly were made by “adding something”. What it really was, nobody knew, except, in some cases, to allusions to the excessive use of potassium metabisulfite. It was made by “adding something” and that was enough to cast shadows and suspicions towards anyone. It was useless to ask questions: it was a sentence already written in advance and therefore unquestionable. It should be said those suspicions were sometimes founded and the news of those times – unfortunately – told us of wine making practices not really “healthy”, in particular the sadly and well known “methanol wine scandal ”, a horrible story for which many – too many – have suffered huge and tragic consequences. Difficult to forget, for those who lived them, the news of those times.

 Yet a different wine existed. And I also heard about it with triumphal emphasis, at least for me who – in those days – I was avidly reading the books and articles of the supreme Italian wine writer Luigi Veronelli, despite not having the chance to personally verify his enchanting praises and dissertations on the subject of wine. He, a firm supporter of pure and genuine wines –  praising and honoring the effort of those who personally cultivated the vineyard – bluntly accused certain “disputable” productions of industrial origin. I was reading, imagining and dreaming, but the only chance I had was the wine that arrived at the table: that is the one of my grandparents, uncles, relatives and trusted friends. Luigi Veronelli, then, a master of writing and of highly refined use of language in the wine subject, author of legendary neologisms, still alive today and dedicated to wine, was also a fine master of intelligent provocation. «The worst peasant wine is better than the best industrial wine», he famously said in those days, also to underline certain wines of questionable production.

 Those times are long gone – there is no doubt about that – and today the world of wine is so far from those habits, practically underwent a rebirth and revolution capable of changing everything. If in those days speaking of true and real quality meant making explicit reference to a very small percentage of producers, today the exact opposite is true. The quality level has significantly increased for every producer, there is greater awareness both of wine making practices and technologies, and of the desire to pursue a very high level of quality. Although there are still today examples of wine making and “bottles” of questionable quality, most of the Italian wine and viticultural activities definitely belong to the highest peaks of the Olympus of wine quality. In fact, in recent decades, the evident distance between the very few wineries making real quality in the past and all the others ones, have either improved or entered the wine making excellence of Italy, the gap has considerably reduced.

 A goal – there is no doubt about this – of which we can be proud of as Italians and which unquestionably places Italy among the very few enological giants in the world. The Italian wine has come a long way and, if it is true that “once upon a time there was wine”, it is even more true that “wine is still here today”. And, in general terms, it is wonderfully, unquestionably, magnificently, proudly better than it was in those times gone by and which, however, has allowed us to get here, for better or for worse. Because – there is no doubt about this – when this uncertain and nefarious period will be over, we will need quality to continue affirming our wine in the world. And here, in Italy, we have a very high quality. Indeed, we have always had that.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 205, April 2021   
Once Upon a Time There Was WineOnce Upon a Time There Was Wine  Contents 
DiWineTaste Polls
Would you buy or drink alcohol-free or dealcoholized wine?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   
What kind of wine do you like having in November?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   
What is your daily intake of wine?


Result   Other Polls

 Share this poll   


☰ Menu

Privacy Policy

Download your free DiWineTaste Card  :  Test your Blood Alcohol Content  :  Follow DiWineTaste Follow DiWineTaste on Twitter Segui DiWineTaste su Instagram

Download DiWineTaste
Copyright © 2002-2021 Antonello Biancalana, DiWineTaste - All rights reserved
All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this publication and of this WEB site may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from DiWineTaste.