I think I’m Turning European…I really think so
Wall Street Journal wine writers Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, in writing about the loosening of state laws that make access to wine easier, made note that what we need to develop in this country is a "Culture of Wine."
You hear a lot about different "Cultures" these days: "Culture of Death", "Culture of Life", "gay sub-cultures"….All these cultures are pretty hard to define. They usually mean something different depending on what the user of the phrase believes. But, it makes you wonder exactly what a "Culture of Wine" implies.
One thing it implies, that not everyone would like, is that America would have to become more like Europe…or at least adopt more European sensibilities. Surely the "Culture of Wine" the Journal writers refer to means, simply, drinking wine more often. This in turn implies that more emphasis be placed on pleasure…an idea that is too often associated in American with sloth, "liberalism", and secularism. Can we get there?
A "Culture of Wine" also implies the diminution of the current "Fast Food Culture" that we most assuredly live within. Fast Food is the enemy of wine. You don’t drink wine in your car. You don’t wolf down wine. There is nothing about wine that is associated with "fast".
Finally, the "Wine Culture" as it exists in Europe is decidedly associated with earthly views of what is right and wrong. Very little of European culture has been affected by the notion that drinking is sinful. The very idea that alcohol and its consumption is sinful would be the most foreign view you could bring to the table in most European circles. Yet here in America it is a mainstay of our culture represented in our laws, customs and constitution.
There is a great deal that conspires against Americans adopting a "culture of wine". But don’t count us out. Brecher and Gaiter are right. We are slowly moving toward a loosening of our anti-drinking laws. It’s a natural movement that takes into account the slow evolution of a faith-based society into a society based on rationality, law and fairness. I’m confident that the natural movement of our society and culture will lead Americans to embrace wine more fully. That movement can be sped up or slowed down by things like a media phenomena (The Movie Sideways) or by anomalies (tragic accidents with alcohol at their center.) But the march toward America embracing a "culture of wine" is inevitable.