May Day! Drinkers of the World Unite! Lose commodity-wine fetishism!

May 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

The other possible quotation to have put in that headline is “Ask not what your wine can do for you, but what you can do for your wine.” Kennedy’s birthday is coming up later this month, but today is International Workers Day, so Marx trumps JFK.

Both lines are relevant to my column in today’s Portland Press Herald, wherein I try to loosen the grip of what’s-in-the-glass fetish, and open up the conversation about the true juiciness of wine residing in process. That’s it: Wine is a process, not a product. A living thing, not a lump of money or sense-satisfaction in a convenient tasty-liquid format.

The column is kind of long-winded (big surprise) with perhaps too little payoff, but I felt I needed to write it to set up how I’m going to shift the perspective of future columns somewhat.

Most of it came out of my recent trip to Slovenia and Italy, and several moments of revelation therein. Visiting different winemakers in Vipava, Karst, Trentino, Friuli, and the Veneto, I heard different perspectives and arguments on viticulture and vinification each time: simultaneously, everyone was disagreeing with each other and everyone was right. I wanted them to get together and discuss. I wanted the truth!

But they won’t all get together. So it’s up to me, you, and other interested drinkers to connect the strands. To approach each taste of wine (and/or of life) as if the only important matter is the story, the entire sequence of events and methodologies that led to the wine’s birth, and its ongoing development in bottle, in glass, in mouth, in soul.

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§ One Response to May Day! Drinkers of the World Unite! Lose commodity-wine fetishism!

  • Wayne Clark says:

    Great column, Joe. A question and a suggestion. The question is, mass-produced wine sells because it’s inexpensive. Good, natural, quality wine is more expensive (especially in the northwest). How can we reconcile those? I bring a great, biodynamic pinot noir to the table but it retails at $25 and no one is interested.

    The suggestion is that I should hook you up with the folks at Illahe if you want to write about process. They are ALL about process. Brad is currently bottling a wine made not only from their organic, horse-farmed grapes, but made with absolutely no electricity. Hand pressed, aged in neutral oak. Even the barrels are moved with an unpowered pallet jack. I had the chance to barrel taste it a month ago and it’s coming along nicely. It will be in bottle for another year.

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