The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ranting is Bad....

I wrote this long rant last week for a store email ostensibly to promote a really good certified organic French wine we were selling. Wisely, one of my coworkers chopped it into sane-sized bits before that prose hit the internets. But that's what blogs are for, right? Here's the vitriol-laden totality of the thing, sprawling and soap-boxy. Um. Enjoy!

Intro -- Wine Value: First of all, to be an excellent value wine (or to be in our store, for that matter) a wine must taste good. Hopefully pleasant to drink and also interesting, thought provoking, distinct. Some retailers feel like that's all that matters: your enjoyment. I feel this is broken and empty way to like at food, nourishment, life. At 3CUPS we care immensely about compelling, delicious flavor, but we don't check our ethics at the office door. We work harder to find sustainably, traditionally and naturally farmed wines, in many instances made by small family farms that are an integral part of the social fabric of their homelands. Because we realize that simple, empty enjoyment is not the path to a fuller, happier life. We all vote with our dollars to create the world in which we live, work, drink. Agriculture, or the move away from healthy, natural forms of it, in favor of gigantic, chemical-driven agribusiness practices, shapes the world we live in. I don't want to sound preachy, but I do care about what I sell. I want real versions of the wine I love to thrive, to maintain a place in the social fabric, and preservation of this place is commerce-driven. This week's Weekend Wine is $10, certified organic, and tastes awesome. It's really not that hard a choice....

More of the Same... Some retailers offer their customers "whatever they want," wine made everywhere in every way, and act as if this is some sort of democratizing consumer advocacy. I find this approach to be disingenuous at best. Most people do not have the time (or inclination) to study in detail the intricacies of wine producing: techniques, styles across 1,000s of available brands. The added value of a retailer is supposed to come from our accumulated expertise, research, and trial-and-error sampling: we select products of quality that you can then chose from and reliably enjoy. That's what a selection is, right? We act as a filter protecting you from wine we think is bad (or usually just mediocre, or overpriced.) If we shirk this responsibility we become an unnecessary link in the wine supply chain.

Why this Weekend's Wine is (and should be) certified organic...Many places around the globe naturally produce exceptional and healthful wines. Grown without excessive chemical or mechanical intervention, these special areas make wines that are nourshing, and a joy to drink. Wines that are grown in a fields with chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are more industrial product than they are food. They often taste empty and exaggerated, and offer shallow pleasure at best: not a part of a healthy dining experience.

A False Promise... Chemical companies and manufacturers of agricultural machinery convinced farmers they needed these technologies to prosper. And through the course of the 20th century many grape growers were able to abandon traditional mixed-use agriculture to farm larger monocultures of grape vines. But did they truly gain wealth? Such technologies applied around the world also exert downward price pressure on bottles of wine, particularly so given the uniform and bland nature of the wines generally made using large-scale conventional farming practices. Many mid-sized producers are left with the costs of chemical farming, and few of the promised rewards.

Tradition and Quality... most importantly, for generations (and still today) very good wines were made without such agricultural "advancements." More farmers each year abandon them and return to clean farming methods. If you buy organic small-farmer wines, you are hastening this return to sanity.


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