Archive - June, 2006

The History and Culture of Wine

So, like many others out there (you too?) I have convinced myself I could have something interesting to say, so I am starting my own blog with a particular focus on my favourite subject at the moment, wine culture.

This is not a site about wine tasting notes, collecting and investing in ‘fine’ wines, ranting against the 100-point systems and a certain reviewer (although it may come up from time to time) or matching it with food. When I say “Wine Culture” I am thinking of how the vine, its fruit and the fermented by-product has played some role in our lives for thousands of years, and how even today this agricultural product is present in our digitised, mechanised and hectic lives. Just as well.

This is an important subject. Wine is not a recent invention, but drinkers who only discovered it recently, probably in a supermarket or trendy bar, would be excused in thinking that the product they are consuming is just like the spirits, RTDs, and most beers they are being offered as alternative alcoholic refreshments – simply another mass-produced means of getting drunk, just slower.

The better wines, but by no means all, are more than this simply because they are a product of nature as well as man, and in the past this was recognised and celebrated in religion, art and when consuming it with family and friends. There is a beautiful legacy of artefacts for making, ageing, drinking, storing, opening and presenting wine (more on this later). These are relics of Chinese, Roman, Greek and Egyptian historical periods, items of mysterious charm as well as offering tantalising insights into their day to day lives.

Today’s equivalents can be found all around us. Riedel glasses. Films like Sideways. The Poster Art of the 1930′s. The latest wine preservation gadgets (either inserting or removing oxygen). However, the one that intrigues me most is how the experience of wine is moving online. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to wine in some form. The most interesting thing about it is that wine cannot be shared through this medium, only the experience of wine, but it is becoming increasingly common to decide what to drink through the web, or to share the experience you had afterwards.

The wine world needs to understand how this will affect what, when, how and why wine is consumed in future as it will probably have as profound an implication as the development of the glass bottle did.

And as for the future? Well, who knows, but one can imagine all sorts, including computers being able to recreate taste sensations across the web to share an experience, or virtual wineries being created to blend wines to particular user’s tastes and requirements, or, less radically, some means of delivering limited quantities of a specific wine to individuals immediately, negating the need for them to build, manage and pay for a cellar.

I will try to look into all sorts of such fantasies and maybe you too will find them of some interest. Let me know.