Culture and Wine

Wine is deeply affected by our cultural norms.  If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about wine and food or old world wines (Europe, & arguably South Africa) v. new world wines (anything outside of Europe, & arguably South Africa) you know that I have firm opinions on these matters.  I am a wine autocrat, and therefore am opposed to democratic ideals when it comes to wine.  Don’t make what the people want, make what’s right!  This is very French.

On the other hand, wine can be politically incorrect.  Wine is all about taste, and when it comes to taste, can anyone tell you that you’re wrong?  This seems to be more American idea, reflecting our democratic society.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Culture and Wine

  1. I disagree. The French, Italian and South Africans have all changed the way they make wine to appease the market. Just look at 2005 and 2007 Bordeaux, if they were still classically made they would not have the amount of concentrated fruit that more and more wineries seem to lean towards, the wines would be more refined with astringent tannins that would require aging before the wine could express itself. South African wines, for those that remember, used to have a very distinctive herbal/medicinal smell and taste, which in the past few years has been removed to have greater appeal in the market. Italian wines are no different, although winemakers aren’t using american oak they are using French barriques that intensifies the wine and gives it more concentrated fruit on the palette. On a side note, wines, artistically speaking, should be a representation of the winemaker and his terroir, and not a representation of the masses.

    1. “On a side note, wines, artistically speaking, should be a representation of the winemaker and his terroir…”

      But not in that order – terroir first!

    2. Ok, wine-know, I have to disagree with you. Fred, I do agree with your point.

      You do bring up some good points on the globalization of wine and the domination of the American palate on the wine industry. But too much oak and too much extraction of fruit in wine blurs out all borders in wine. Translation : With enough over-extracted fruit and tannins all wines will taste the same, no matter the region or varietal.

      While this IS happening in the Old World, the prevalent attitude is still focused on wines that show terroir. South Africa is a bit different. It has never fit neatly into the Old World or New World category, so I view it more as a fighting ground. There are some producers making some pretty banal wines that taste like unnamed animal wines from the land down under, but there are also a number of producers who care about producing quality wine in South Africa.

      True, there are more producers who are “putting on the maquillage (makeup)” to Parkerize their wines in France, Italy, and elsewhere in Europe, but I still think that the general winemaking theme in France and other European countries is based on terroir.

      Besides the consumer is starting to get bored with all these over extracted wines. Just look at the Australian category. While their are a number of factors that contribute to it’s downfall on wine racks, I’m of the opinion that one of those reasons is their assault on one’s palate due to too much fruit and oak. Also look at the trend in California with all the unoaked Chards and they’re not the only ones. When it comes to fashion, the classics will always sell. I think the consumer is wising up to the fact that sameness is boring.

      Terroir provides stability and uniqueness to the consumer. It is never boring. It is always in fashion.

  2. Hello Mr. Haegeli
    I would love to believe that the trend of over extracting wine is coming to an end, but I would only be fooling myself.
    There are many business that foresee BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) joining the wine market and completely revamping it. Not one study mentions anything about terroir driven wines, most of them mention high production and low cost wines. I will defend China’s culture by stating they believe and thrive for the perfection of self, which in time will carry over to the wines they produce, but the other three countries won’t be producing soft and delicate wines any time soon. The other three countries are all about being big and over the top, just look at their culture.
    I, for one, do not see a high percentage of wineries making terrior driven wines any time soon. California is still one of the best selling wine regions. Australia would still be a top producing country had a un-named company not bastardized the industry, and destroyed the market by producing lower than par wines for almost nothing. (I agree with you here) 🙂
    Could there be a revolution that wipes the market and forces wineries to produce only top quality wines? Possibly, but outside of a revolution, I don’t believe that in given time the market will retract.

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