Sunday, September 11, 2022

A World Without Italian Wine

Who among us could imagine a world without wine from Italy? Well, I’m sure there are those teetotalers who have and do. And there are those for whom alcohol is an addiction, and they as well could, and should, imagine such. But for those of us who are not controlled by alcoholic urges and for whom wine is a safe and healthy accompaniment to our meals and our friendships, wine no longer from Italy is unthinkable.

But not impossible. With threats from global climate change, changes in animal migrations, land wars, and general convulsive nature of our world, could Italian wine be wiped off the face of Earth?

In fact, a world without Italian wine existed for much longer than a world with it. Millions of years, billions. And Italian wine, how long have we had it, maybe 5,000 years? So, it’s not like it has been a permanent thing on the planet. But most of us live in the here and now, where we live our lives, and trouble ourselves little with the before and after of things.

Nothing is forever.

So, will there be Italian wine in 5,000 years? Will there be an Italy? Will Earth still foster human life? Will any of us ever know? Why should we care?

I look at the family tree of, say, the Antinori family, who have been around for 26 generations, 600 years, 8% of the time Italian wine has been around. They are invested in the past as well as the future. It’s part of their living legacy. But those of us without the history, the tree and the patrimony might struggle to see the why of it. Why should we care?

In short, Italian wine is a gift from the earth to her people. And her people have made it into something greater than how it came to be, originally. It is a thing humankind has done that is good and hearty, full of life. It is joyful and it is a cause for celebration. It is an everyday thing as well. It is mundane and it is extraordinary. So, if it were to be wiped off the face of Earth, many of us would see it as tragic and heartbreaking.

But life would go on, without wine, without humanity.

Photo courtesy of the winery

I say this with a simple wine in mind that I had the other day. It was a white wine from Piedmont, a Gavi “Cristina Ascheri,” from Cantine Giacomo Ascheri. Gavi, at one time, was considered one of the greatest white wines in Italy. But fashions change and trends emerge. And everything circles around, usually, over and over. And now Gavi is cycling back into favor among people who still appreciate well made wines. This wine is simply delicious. It beckons one. Delicate. Assertive. Savory. Dry. Rich, even. Lovely wine. A world without this wine would be a sadder place. I don’t want to live in a world without wines like this.

Everyday another wine tugs on me. “We don’t have a lifetime for you to wait,” they call to me. The ones in the cellar are even more blunt, “Open me, you bastard, I’ve been sitting in this cold, dark place for 20 years. I’m ready goddamnit!” A Nebbiolo, doubtless.

The Sangiovese ones are outspoken in the only way something from Tuscany can be. One Chianti exclaims, “I may not be a Brunello and some of you might think I cannot age, but don’t waste me any longer. I’m ready to go – wake up, get in here and take me out of this place!” Yes, a world without Italian wines would be so much more boring than it is now.

Oh, they don’t talk to you? You think I might be a little batty? Perhaps. Or maybe this silverback has learned to listen to his cellar mates. They don’t talk to you? I’m sorry, what you are missing out on. Take it from me, they talk endlessly, chattering all through the night, knowing that they have one function to fulfill, and that is to escape the confines of the cork and bottle in which they are imprisoned.

Yes, what a world it would be, a world without Italian wine. But not any world I care to live in. How about you? 


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