I’m 87 days into my 100 day wine abstinence program. And I’ve discovered so many things that have shaken my relationship with wine, recreation and refreshment. It has also changed how I look at the business of wine. And it has altered my objective.
I no longer want people to drink more (Italian) wine. I want more people to drink (Italian) wine. But I want to see those people drinking better, not more. It’s that simple.
I see how much those of us in the wine and spirits trade drink, as if our enormous volumes of intake will make up the difference. All that does is make for dangerous drives home at the end of a night and for wobbly livers when we get there.
I see contemporaries posting pictures of massive amounts of wine, 30 years verticals of Ornellaia and what not and I now cringe. And even if someone is just tasting and spitting, I say to myself now, “What?” and then “So, what?” I see a dilemma.
First off, if one opens those bottles and doesn’t enjoy them, only spitting, how does that honor the spirit of the effort that went into making all those great wines? Secondly, if one actually tries to partake of all of those wines, not spitting, that level of gourmandizing seems to have crossed over into a territory that screams to me, “This isn’t what the winemaker intended.” I know this sounds a little like a Baptist preacher at his pulpit on a Sunday, but hang in there with me. That’s not where I’m going.
I don’t intend to sell my wine collection anytime soon. But I do intend to curate it, along with the wines I will drink on an everyday basis, with a different perspective. We don’t need more. We need better.
Italy surely has kept up in both the more and the better department. So the onus is on each and every one of us to decide which way we want to go.
And I see that in Italy, by the way. People there eat and drink less. And articles are written, bemoaning that diminishing consumption of alcohol (wine) per capita by the Italians. As if drinking two liters of a not so well made Barbera was the ultimate goal?
Actually, the Italians are on track. It’s just that the expectation was for “more.” And many of them are opting for “better.” Not “more and better,” which seems to be the path of many in my world.
I call on the well-recognized wine writers and critics to look at the way the write about wine and ask them how they are framing their reviews, criticism and reflections on wine. Are you getting more traffic because of your epic tastings of 50 Barolos from the 1960’s? Are you contributing to the feeding frenzy of “more” and the lust to taste everything in one sitting from Giacomo Conterno or Angelo Gaja? Is this your goal?
Maybe it’s a stage some of us must go through. After all, those wines are made to be consumed, if even in a conspicuous manner. But I contend this might be a bit too much. Well, it is for me at this point in my life. I’d just as soon have a nice glass of an honest Beaujolais or Vino Nobile.
So, that’s where I’m at – that’s the view from here, at the edge of the country with a clear sighting on the Pacific all the way to Catalina Island. Murmurings of one who is privileged to have a quiet morning, facing the west, looking towards the east, in search of some kind of balance in life with this thing we call wine.
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