Posts Filed Under commentary
Does wine still excite you?
I mean, does it really matter to you these days?
I don’t mean matter in that classy way to get trashed way, though given the state of world affairs and divisive US politics these days, I’d be one of the last people to begrudge you that kind of temporary salve.
What I mean is, do you still get the same thrill out of wine that you did when first discovering a great unsung producer, or a killer bargain, or a fortunate run-in with one of the unicorns?
I ask this not because I’ve personally lost that fire (as proof, I submit every article written on these virtual pages over there last two years), but because it’s tough to ascertain if normal people care anymore.
There are a shit ton of terrible things happening in the world as I write this. And while we’re unquestionably richer, safer, and just plain better off as a whole compared with, say, forty years ago (just take a look at any statistical measure in developments such as infant mortality rate as captured by the United Nations), the trend towards normalizing rampant nationalism globally has got to have any rational person more than a little concerned these days. If you engage in behavior that we wouldn’t tolerate from six year old kids – denigrating people, wasting money, isolating your friends, and abdicating personal responsibilities – the best you can do on America is… become President? And don’t get me started on the “post-fact era” of media consumption (a term that utterly loathe, as if facts were ever candidates for exclusion as a matter of normal adult behavior).
We’re kind of through the looking glass at this point, aren’t we?
In this environment, it’s a bit tough to justify writing about fermented grape juice.
The kicker is that I’ve got reams of material to share – I’ve yet to write up travels to Israel, Idaho, the Rhone, Romagna, a new Sonoma cult wine release with historical ties to previous coverage here on 1WD, and very likely Asti (since I’m in route there as I pen this very opinion piece). And I’m excited about all of them… That is, until I make the mistake of catching the news.
I’m not going to stop, of course. But I’m reflective by nature, and I can’t help but take some pause and think, “does this stuff really matter?” – knowing full well that it never stopped mattering to those in the wine biz, that the product has a history much longer than our current political woes, that there are vines (and some wines) that will outlive everyone reading these words, that just maybe because of all of that, wine actually matters more now than ever before.
So… are you still as excited about vino as I am? Because I think that I could really use a drink right now…
My friend, fellow wine competition judge, and colleague (sorry, bro!) Michael Cervin recently asked me to offer up a comment or two (I agreed to do so on the record) for a piece he was writing for The Tasting Panel magazine, focusing on how (or if) political leanings impacted the wine business.
Michael published a screenshot of his interesting and well-written piece, which includes quotes from other people that I know and respect in the wine industry, and so I am also including it here (above) under the assumption that it’s okay to share.
I am quoted in the article as basically saying that I don’t think about anyone’s politics when it comes to wine, and that I happen to fine wine-industry-types among the more level-headed and reasonable folk when it comes to debating politics in a civil manner. Reflecting back on it, this isn’t entirely accurate, so I felt that I should include a clarification (or two, or three, knowing me), because, well, we live in some heated times when it comes to all of this political sh*t…
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Recently, an examination of a rather large data set of studies (we’re talking nearly 200 countries, and over 690 pieces of work involving millions of people) was published in Lancet, and most of my alcohol-loving friends just about lost their sh*t.
The reason for the theoretical emergency bowel-vacating stemmed from media coverage of one of the Lancet study’s late conclusions, and the one harpooned by the media and shared pretty much everywhere (emphasis mine):
“Alcohol use is a leading risk factor for disease burden worldwide, accounting for nearly 10% of global deaths among populations aged 15–49 years, and poses dire ramifications for future population health in the absence of policy action today. The widely held view of the health benefits of alcohol needs revising, particularly as improved methods and analyses continue to show how much alcohol use contributes to global death and disability. Our results show that the safest level of drinking is none.”
That pithy little emphasized sentence above is the scientific equivalent of constructing a late-game, come-from-behind, potentially-game-winning NFL drive that started on your team’s own ten-yard line, culminating in a 3rd-and-long breakout run during which your guys fumble the f*cking ball at the goal-line and emerge with a heartbreaking loss. This is because there is a wealth of health-related insight that could come out of the Lancet study, and they chose to focus on the one aspect that the data don’t actually support directly; that conclusion is controversial at best, and is only loosely inferred from the analysis, based on the facts and results cited in the very study itself.
Bear in mind that alcohol constitutes an inordinate amount of the professional and leisure portions of my existence on this planet, which is why instead of trying to make that case myself in my own (not-so-)potentially biased way, I’ll instead refer you to Vox, who have already (splendidly) done that for me…
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Folks, we’re getting old.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full five years since my friend, fellow wine competition judge, all-around decent guy, and prolific author Michael Cervin assembled the last edition of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the US Wine Industry. So much has changed in those ensuing five revolutions around the Sun that it’s simply mind-boggling to consider the volume… wow, I’m only two minutes into penning this and I already need a drink…!
Intowine.com has recently published Michael’s 2018 version of that US wine biz influencer list, and as always the results are almost equal parts educational, seemingly-inevitable, and controversial (at least one of the names from this year’s list has been associated with infamous wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan). While I don’t have detailed insight into how this list gets constructed, I do know that Michael has, in previous incarnations, canvased industry professionals of various stripes regarding who they see as helping to (directly or indirectly) move the markets when it comes to wine, and frequency of mention from those results was a key determinant for if and where names are placed on the list.
I think it’s worth unpacking the results of the 2018 influencer list, and so unpack them we shall…
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