Wine not?

Wine in France is, the least to say, an institution, an Art, a way of life and for some a Religion.

There are many reasons for that, it comes mainly for over two thousand years of wine making and wine enjoyment. Catholics supported vine culture, wine making, selling, drinking. It comes with a culture, a philosophy, and most of all, the Land. France is the place where God put the right vines, in good soils, matching climates, with the perfect ecosystem ; there is almost nothing to do but let Nature work. Men perfected harvesting, culture, assembling. Then came technology, helping to control a thousand parameters and in the end, produce high quality wines. There is no such thing as a « perfect » wine, but a wine matching land character (the « terroir »), winery style, the very local climate, the sun of this side of the hill, the heat stored by those white stones, this particular mushroom that grows there on the grape skin and tweaks the fermentation to something unique, the art of making the barrels, vessels for the years to come for the wine to age, the smell of the cave they’re stored in.

Yes, in France, wine matters. It inspired the world. As it became one place, wine did so. And in the USA, they are also making wine. Years ago, I spent some time in Napa Valley, and I was amazed with some (not all) wines available there. I was not less amazed by the gas heating systems in open fields and the huge windmills (actually, fans) to spread the hot air around the vines, to avoid frost. Is it worth *heating* the whole valley ? Seems money talks loud in here. Robert Parker and his guide changed the way people buy wine, so it changed the way most wineries tune their wine. Yeah, add some wood chunks and oxygenate, it give you a better score and so, you can sell higher. The price of the wine in the USA makes it a luxury good : expect $50 for a good bottle, $500 for something great. This is 5 to 10 times more than in France, I suppose it’s due to the offer versus demand ratio.

Taste comes with education. Most Americans will drink wine in a water plastic glass, with no understanding of what wine is, nor how to appreciate it. Most will think french are, winewise, sophisticated, complicated folks full of laughable manners. Aliens with monocles talking fancy, dancing sissies in unnerving talking spree. Some Americans understand and appreciate wine, but I have met so few.

Then, surprisingly, they also have beer. Maybe, from being mostly british / scott / irish culture, there is something they understand about it beyond what we’ve got in France. Besides the now officially infamous Bud / Miller / Coors industrial beer; a galaxy of breweries are making very interesting brews. Sometimes “too much” crafty, sometimes bad, sometimes too tweaked – cheated; but most of them are plain good, honest, affordable and enjoyable.

I dropped drinking wine in the US : I drink beer. And back in old Europe, ah! Both. Enjoy and deal with addiction.

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