Thought sediment about wine (and other loosely related subjects)
When you run out of things to say about wine, then write about writing about wine. Or better, write about the things that others have written about writing about wine. Then shimmy through the hall of mirrors with alacrity. If art can eat itself, then wine can certainly drink itself.
Benjamin Disraeli once said when he wanted to read a novel, he wrote one. There is so normally much useless writing to be done, I’m afraid, that I hardly have any time left to read the improving words of others on the subject of wine. On the other hand, when I am devoid of inspiration, I find that any article, be it a considered piece or simply a flashy sound bite, has the potential to get the juices flowing.
The wine world is constantly referred to as the wine industry and that industry is described as a single entity.
What prompted this current piece was a recent article that was flagged as supposedly controversial, concerning the wine industry needing to reinvent itself to appeal to the younger generations (these pesky millennials heroically shouldering the burden for world wine trade). But Gen Alpha – they don’t know they’ve been born. Anyway, this vox pop, shared and re-shared on social media, falls into that perpetual binary view of the wine industry of articles that either declare enthusiastically that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, or faux-controversial doom-mongering pieces positing the end of wine is nigh unless we entice a new generation of consumers. Flapdoodle and fiddlesticks, as Professor Yaffle would say.
A lot of wine writing is marketing guff, mere advertorial. The wine world is constantly referred to as the wine industry and that industry is described as a single entity. In the same sense, consumers are viewed as slaves to trends, an amorphous form of collective unthinking intelligence. We talk about trends even though we know that the wheel turns constantly and that today’s golly-gosh news is tomorrow’s fish-n-chip wrapping paper. Wine writing is addicted to hooks and headlines to feel relevant: this grape, that region, an entrepreneurial personality here, some lovely Nielson statistics there. None of this is original. It is almost as if we have run out of things to write about; the bulk of wine writing is bland, generic and fills pages instead of stimulating thoughts or inciting discussion.
We talk about trends even though we know that the wheel turns constantly and that today’s golly-gosh news is tomorrow’s fish-n-chip wrapping paper.
It would be interesting to discover forums where poetry, emotion, interrogative science and playful humour meet and mingle in the name of wine. Wine magazines, with a few exceptions, come and go. The best writing about the subject lurks behind paywalls on specialist websites and a few free-to-read blogs where the contributors want their opinions read by a broad spectrum of readers (i.e. experts and relative novices). And when I am devoid of inspiration, I will scan these places, discover the carrion of past and present articles and filch the bones from them to make some fresh wine broth. Not to mention some psychedelic extended wine metaphors!