What Makes Wine Great—Reason #1
Wine is a commodity. The vast majority of wine released for sale every year is drunk casually and within hours or a few days of being purchased by consumers who bought the wine because it fit their budget and the label was pretty.
And yet, wine is also an important and permanent item among humanity’s small collection of enduring treasures. Ideas as to what it is about wine that puts it in this exclusive category are many, expressed by thoughtful folks more learned and passionate than I.
Still, here’s my explanation:
It is entirely possible that this wine could be consumed and enjoyed fully 200 years after the vines that produced the grapes from which it was fashioned were planted.
Read that again.
Now, find me another consumable product that could so concretely represent and connect us to a time and place and culture otherwise untouchable.
This condition…this potential, places wine outside the context of tomato sauce, orange juice, beer, honey and soap. It places it in the same category as the pyramids, Mount Rushmore, the Acropolis or the Great Wall of China.
True, not every wine —not even 99% of wines—delivers this kind of wide historical marking, but the fact that wine can do this and the fact that wine has operated as a marker of time and place and culture and history is exactly what makes wine such an important cultural marker in humankind’s time traipsing upright across the earth.
It’s my view that those of us who believe in wine and sell wine and love wine must find a way to consistently communicate this unique and vital characteristic of the beverage. Communicated literally or in a nuanced way, the cultural and historical touchstone that is wine can and does motivate some of those people who buy wine merely because it’s wet and inebriates to investigate further and eventually become more ardent champions of wine. And this is a good thing in every respect.