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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 217, May 2022   
What If Wine Should Change?What If Wine Should Change?  Contents 
Issue 216, April 2022 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 218, June 2022

What If Wine Should Change?


 Nothing is forever. Time goes by, things change – and with them, also the events and habits of humans – usually forced to adapt themselves to new conditions and needs. Furthermore, change is often imperative to ensure that everything remains as it was before. Something that, notoriously, was also suggested in the magnificent masterpiece “The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: «If we want everything to stay as it is, everything has to change». After all, whoever fears the future, therefore change, is condemned to regret the past, fearing the present, excluded from the time that will be. However, those who allow themselves to the future by forgetting the experience of the past and the fruit of the present, are inevitably doomed to the unfortunate misfortune of repeating their mistakes – without ever understanding the cause – prisoner of a failed regression devoid of any hope. Moreover, it is also true that history teaches men nothing – or very little – with ignoble and deplorable effects for the future, blinded only by their own useless arrogance and the presumption of believing that the future must necessarily be the obstinate repetition of the mistakes of the past.


 

 Repetiva iuvant, (repeated things help) says a famous Latin saying, however, if we closely look at the obstinate repetition of certain things in the future, it would not seem to help that much, indeed. Then, it is also true that, in certain cases, the actions and events of the future – even the absolutely new and unprecedented ones – turn out to be unsuccessful and not convenient at all, forcing, so to speak, to go back and start over from the past, strengthened by the experience gained from the mistakes just made, possibly avoiding repeating them. Wine, of course, is not immune to the events following one another over time, from dealing with its past, including looking to the future. Not least, to go back to the past and remain anchored to that era, that style, unquestionably elected as the future of wine, simply perpetuating the very same time and ways that are anything but progress. This happens not only for wine, especially in those countries – like Italy – so strongly rooted to the past and to their traditions, often considered as sacred, even inviolable and immutable, perhaps also for the fear of facing the future, one's own future.

 In these times, so bizarre, so remotely unimaginable only three years ago, wine – after having achieved, at least in Italy, a sensational result in economic and trade terms – is preparing to face the near future with some difficulties and uncertainty. Not only those that are being determined by the new economic conditions on a global level, but also – and above all – by the situation that is being created in the production and availability of raw materials. At the moment, producers are most concerned about the scarce availability of bottles, a fundamental good for the marketing of wine. Without the glass bottle, the wine remains in the casks and tanks, unable to leave the winery for the consumers' glasses. This is – of course – an obstacle that is not exactly simple, given the implications that this entails in the entire wine sector and, more generally, in any production sector requiring glass and the bottle as indispensable elements.

 The bottles available on the market – that is the basic material, therefore empty – have either been purchased in recent months and in large batches from large wineries with enormous financial resources and negotiating potentials, or, those available, are sold to high prices. In the second hypothesis, in case the producer manages to buy them – both for opportunity and for economic possibility – this translates directly into an increase in production costs, therefore in the final selling price. Furthermore, the problem is not only the glass for the bottles, but also the other raw materials and services that – as a whole – allow the producer to “finish” the product and sell it. However, according to what has been declared by the producers on several recent occasions, it would precisely be the difficulty in finding glass bottles to make wine trading critical.

 What if the simplest solution was to replace glass with another material, possibly at this moment easier to find and which, as a primary condition, guarantees the good keeping of the wine until it is poured into the glass? I already imagine, in truth, the perplexed and perhaps even indignant reaction of many in thinking of pouring wine into their glasses from something other than a glass bottle. It is – I imagine for many – a change also of a cultural nature and not only linked to the immovable sacredness of tradition, because this has always been so and it must not change. Nevertheless, before glass was “invented”, wine was marketed and shipped everywhere, transported in containers produced with the materials available at the time. Yes, of course, glass is an excellent material in this sense, much better – for example – than the terracotta amphorae that were used at the dawn of Western civilizations. However, what should we do if glass bottles aren't so readily available? Should we stop making and marketing wine?

 After all, to be honest, we have already seen a “cultural” change of this type and, many will remember, aroused quite a lot of controversies, including the indignation of many, shouting scandal and acting as irreducible bulwarks in defense of tradition and of “because this has always been like so, this is how it must be forever”. I am referring to what happened to closures, when those produced with synthetic materials, as well as glass or screw caps, began to be used. At first – and I remember it all too well – it was an exaggerated ruckus, then, with time, the novelty was accepted and today very few notice the fact that, when opening a bottle, they end up having a synthetic or screw cap in their hands. Not only that: this novelty has allowed considerable cost savings, allocating the use of the best corks to wines that really require them and for which – at least for the moment – it is irreplaceable. A change that, despite having challenged the sacred tradition, today it is an accepted fact. After all, what is tradition if not a successful event and which, as such, is perpetuated over time? And how many events of the past have not become part of the tradition just because they have proved to be unsuccessful?

 I am aware the proposal of replacing the glass bottle with another container and made with a different material is a provocation, certainly annoying for many. Don't worry about this: replacing the glass bottle with another container is not so simple. First of all, it would be necessary to change all the production disciplinary of denomination wines as the glass bottle is expressly a requirement provided by law. And, as a matter of fact, a wine disciplinary is a law of the Italian State in all respects. Given the current situation, for which it is difficult – at this moment – to predict when a recovery will occur, it is probably necessary to think about functional alternatives. The glass bottle – exactly as for natural cork – turns out to be indispensable, therefore irreplaceable, for certain wine styles, such as those destined for long aging. Wines to be consumed after a few months or years from production can certainly be marketed in containers other than glass, probably even cheaper. Everything changes: it is just a matter of time and adaptation. Just like for “non-cork” caps, sooner or later even “non-glass” bottles will become commonplace and accepted. A matter of time and, perhaps, they could not even be bottles. After all, what makes a wine good and appreciable is what we pour into the glass, exactly at that moment when we forget about the glass bottle or whatever it is.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 217, May 2022   
What If Wine Should Change?What If Wine Should Change?  Contents 
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