Archive for category sociology
Summer brought bliss and blush. Rosé wine towered wine displays everywhere. It has been enjoyable, right? You must admit it was fun. But can you honestly admit to your friends that you prefer blush to bizarre in wine. Or, are you ashamed of it? Is rosé good or great?
- Wine as Education (sociologyofwine.com)
- Pop Culture & Wine (sociologyofwine.com)
- Rosé Makes a Comeback! (redwinediva.wordpress.com)
Athletes, musicians and even adult film stars are tackling the terroir. The “How Wine Became Modern” exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last month focused on Design + Wine. It was a pop-culture typography of wine-bottle labels that portrayed everything from high fashion to playful low-brow. In movies, wine is very real, in celebrity culture it is very surreal, and in books it is wrapped in mystery, according to pop culture.
When I was little, I wanted to become an explorer. I read all the first hand accounts of territorial conquests but concluded with some sadness that the world was already explored. It took me a while to learn that some things can be rediscovered. Rheinhessen is such a place. Riesling is such a grape.
My wife tells me winery visits are not interesting for toddlers. I disagree. Wine trips are not only for connoisseurs, you can bring your spouse, brother, kid, parent or even your pet along. But remember two key planning tips: 1. Reading wine books that describe vines, wines and grapes will not help you much. 2. Every vacation should provide each participant non-wine, peak experiences, so anchor your trip in an independently attractive city that has options for the whole family (see Family Wine Vacations, Color Magazine USA, ED. 35 – MARCH 2011).
Building up to my upcoming piece on the sociology of Chardonnay, I wanted to recall a 2007 piece on the subject. In the article A glass of versatility in the June issue of New Statesman, Roger Scruton says the following:
Everyone knows about Chardonnay. At least, they think they do. How it has happened is a deep question of sociology; but it has happened, and there is no going back: everybody today has a clear and distinct idea of Chardonnay. Go to any competent restaurant in this brave new world, and there will be a selection of Chardonnays on the wine list. Enter a bar anywhere in Britain, Australia or America and ask for a glass of Chardonnay, and you will be instantly obliged. People who know nothing about wine have nevertheless heard of Chardonnay, and in all probability retain a memory of tasting it. It is a wine people rely on, swear by and sometimes even recognise. Yet there is hardly any grape with so varied and unpredictable a taste…
The sociologist’s task is indeed to try to figure out why, how, when and who on earth would be responsible for such a paradox. Is it branding? Is it something about the taste, contrary to what Scruton says? What about the French or France factor–we all have a stereotypical and positive view of that place when it comes to elegant food and drink? Or the fact that Chateau Montelena won the 1976 Paris tasting?
Chardonnay is the grape from which the world’s greatest white wine is grown in those tiny Burgundian vineyards whose legendary names – Montrachet, Blagny, Corton-Charlemagne – expand in the brain as their wines expand on the palate. But the same grape produces the steely wine of Chablis, the oily estate wines of Australia, the carefully regulated brands from California, and the madcap Chardonnays of the Languedoc, often produced by Australian exiles in flight from some scandal back home. It is the world’s most versatile grape, producing sharp and sprightly aperitifs to rival the fragrant, buttery wines of the Côte d’Or.
What is happening in the world of Chardonnay? Have you noticed anything? Do you like Chardonnay more or less now than before? What characteristics of this grape is it that lets consumers go crazy for it? Is it simply that it is easer to say “Chardonnay” than try to remember one of those other white grape varietals? Is the selection pretty bad? Is Chardonnay the altogether king of white wine grapes? Let me know.
We all have dreams. Try dreaming of Provence. The terrain is stunning: hills, bushes and shrubs in green and ochre. Soft herbal smells of wild lavender, rosemary and thyme fill your nose. Winds surround you. The Mediterranean ocean is in front of you. Then there is wine. But in the winter, spending hours in fascinating conversation in people’s wine cellars is a cold pleasure. The good thing is, you are almost alone. I recommend Norwegian wool underwear, or going in Summer, Spring or Fall. Failing that, simply dream about it, and read on (Dreaming of Wine in Provence, Color Magazine – Ed. 34 – Feb. 2011).