What Makes Wine Great — Reason #2: Symbolism
There are those that decry the “elitism” in wine. The ceremony long associated with so many aspects of wine is labeled snobbery. I want to suggest that these kinds of derogatory labels have emerged and been promoted more heavily of late out of laziness and misunderstanding. But more importantly, these actions and things surrounding wine that are misrepresented as elitism and snobbery are instead reflections of one of the ways wine is great.
Those who claim wine is too elitist and too snobby don’t understand that the special storage chambers, special language, special vessels, special tools and the special place that this beverage claims in so many cultures are a direct result of wine being the one product best-symbolizing humankind’s intimate relationship with the environment.
That relationship between man and the environment, cultivated over millennia, has always been the foundation of human civilization and its evolution. With the production of wine, we create something representing the terroir of our homes and lives and peoples that can be kept and consumed, year after year and season after season. That ceremony and symbolism and language and implements would evolve around this uniquely symbolic and human product should be no surprise, but instead should be celebrated and not derided.
Preservation of the ceremony surrounding wine as well as the symbolic and metaphoric language that has long been used to describe how humans experience wine should at all costs be preserved, not demoted, not replaced with something common or base. The insistence by some that snobbery and elitism need to be discarded so more people can feel comfortable with wine don’t understand we aren’t talking about snobbery and elitism, but rather a millennia-long history and a communal celebration of civilization.
There is no human civilization without dominion over the earth, represented by not just the purposeful sowing of crops, but transforming their yield into life-sustaining food and drink. Without this kind of dominion, we don’t have a stable community, without which we do not have homes and towns and cities and self-government and arts and science. No single consumable product better represents this momentous evolution than wine. If we cannot sustain the ceremony and symbols that celebrate this product, we may as well devolve.
Among the things that makes wine great is its unique symbolic importance for humankind.