1) Wine is food.
2) Wine is culture
3) Wine makes community
The first is an old idea, fully realized while working at a wine shop in Oakland. (Life is funny, the work experience that I am most proud of is the one few people here in TX know anything about.) Basically, the idea is that wine is produced from an agricultural product and made by artisans and craftsmen with the intention of being served with a meal. It’s not an accompaniment to food, it’s part of the food itself – good wine makes food taste better, and good food makes wine taste better. I try not to be a hater on this blog, so I’ll just say that wine with good acidity, moderate alcohol, and little or no flavors of wood tend to be the best to serve with food – we like foods that have acidity, alcohol kills your taste buds, and few of us out there actually eat wood.
I keep harping about the second idea. Music, art, books, comics, film, fine meals, clothes; all of these things are made by people who care about what they do, and are driven to create. Wine is no different. All of these things have both a mainstream that creates a “brand” for mass consumption (often on a tremendous scale) as well as a smaller set of individuals that create their product out of an interest in that product. There are pop musicians who simply want to sell records, there are folks who make music because they love music. Some are conceptual and idea oriented, others are more visceral and emotive. The world of wine has the same diversity, the same gulf between big brands and small producers, the same differences in inspiration and execution. (You don’t buy your music at the mall, you shouldn’t buy your wine at the grocery store.)
The last is obviously more nebulous. It’s a new idea for me, so I probably haven’t completely cemented what I mean. Obviously the idea of community is a pretty hard concept to define. All I know is that sharing wine and a meal with friends makes them closer to family, with family makes them more like friends, and with strangers makes them more familiar. Many of us want to build a sense of community with our neighbors, with our peers, with the folks out there (both IRL and online) that love the same things we love – sharing and exploring wine helps. Searching for wine made with honesty, that reflects where it comes from – that’s creating community.
This is the stuff I think about. I encourage everyone out there to think about it too. Have some wine with your dinner, ask your local shop for wine made by a small producer, share a glass with others - it's really pretty simple, and feels good too.