Have you heard about the drop in interest in high-end wines because of the crummy economy—you have heard about the economy?
Think about it for a minute: the economy tanks and among the things that tanks with it are sales of wines that most of us can’t afford to drink regularly. What does that say about wine and about us?
Many of us find it easy to wax romantic over the notion that Europe is a wine culture, a place where families drink wine together everyday at meals, and although there’s evidence that things are changing in Europe, the wine culture thing has been true for quite some time. But what exactly do Europeans drink everyday?
It’s doubtful that most Europeans can afford a daily dose of Petrus, Giacosa, Pesquera, or the latest in Grosse Gewächse wines. No, that’s not the everyday wines of Europe. In fact, in every European country that I have visited, the everyday wines generally come pouring out of nondescript carafes or they are each country’s version of the Italian Vino Da Tavola; in other words, comparable to an American low-priced wine.
A true wine culture doesn’t talk about it all day, as many of us do. A true wine culture doesn’t spend its time searching for Nirvana in numbers. More important, a true wine culture doesn’t flee the product at the first sign of an economic downturn. That’s because in a true wine culture, there’s always a carafe nearby of solid, healthy wine either made by your father, your friend, or the family with the vineyard and winery down the road.
In a true wine culture, you don’t need labels, you don’t need age restrictions, you don’t need ratings, and you certainly don’t need 50 states with 500 separate regulations. In a true wine culture, you don’t need Wall Street to guide your wine drinking habits. And in a true wine culture, you should be able to get wine stamps with your food stamps!
Also, in a true wine culture, the lower cost products are a lot better than some of the plonk I’ve tasted lately because I can no longer afford the better stuff.
PS: I do wonder about the wine critics who tell us about those marvelous $30 and $40 bottles of wine for lunch. One for lunch and one for dinner everyday, and I’d be eating, er, drinking all my book sale profits, if I ever make any.
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November 2009. All rights reserved.