Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Missing the Point? Twice?

I consider myself lucky.

As an army brat I moved around a lot, we lived in Germany for a long time, as well as various places in the United Kingdom. When I became an adult I carried on moving, first from my home in the Hebrides to Birmingham, to study, then eventually to Prague and now I am in the US, who knows where is next? I have visited many countries, Belarus, Romania, and France to name a few. I have drunk in bars and pubs in three continents and something is true in almost every culture I have experienced, alcohol is part of life.

Whether sat in a pub in Dublin, drinking stout and listening to old fellas lamenting the falling standards of bar staff, a wine bar in Bergerac, eating pig snout salad, or a club in Minsk, downing shots of vodka, booze is an essential part of being human. Some will claim that beer was an essential player in the evolution of civilisation, I tend to think it is broader than that, it was alcohol in general.

I was planning to write a post today bemoaning the wine-ification of beer and how those that advocate the gentrification of our favourite drink are missing the point of beer when it hit me, they are also missing the point of wine itself, and spirits. Let me give you an example, if you take a trip to the south eastern part of the Czech Republic, Moravia, you will find row after row of vines, sometimes it seems like everyone has their own sklep - an underground cellar for aging their wine. Wine in Moravia, just as with beer in Bohemia, is deeply unpretentious, it is just the alcohol of choice for that part of the Czech Republic.

Coming away from the Czech lands, I am reminded of being in a small bar in Sarlat-la-Canéda in the Dordogne region of France. Mrs V and I were squeezed into this room that couldn't have been much bigger than my deck (140 sq ft, or 13m2), we were drinking beer, while everyone else was drinking a local wine, I know, I know, I am terrible and uncouth. There was no deep inhaling of the aromas, swirling the glass to 'release the aromatics' or any other daft fripperies that go on, just local people drinking local wine and enjoying each other's company. Thankfully Mrs V and I have found a vineyard near us which is likewise very unpretentious and has nice wines.

Wine, just like beer, is an every man drink - enjoyed by peasants and presidents throughout the ages in those places where viticulture thrives. The problem is clearly not the drink itself, but rather the people that want to take it away from its heartland and make it something aspirational, something inspirational and ultimately invest in it a meaning that is entirely irrational. Such people have missed the point of wine and beer, much to the detriment of both.


  1. Wine's just an agricultural product produced to make our lives a bit better.


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