On a sad day like today, with bombs raining down on Brussels and the world in such turmoil, spending all of my time and energy on wine studies seems a superfluous pursuit. Wine is a luxury good, not a necessity. And shouldn’t we be focusing on essential needs in these dark days?
The more I think about it, the more I disagree with this sentiment. Ernest Hemingway once said that “wine is one of the most civilized things in the world”. Like art or music, the sensory pleasure given by fine wine broadens the mind and heightens the senses. Consumed in moderation, it encourages noble sentiments like compassion and understanding.
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world”
In ancient Greece, wine was an integral part of all political and philisophical exchanges. The great symposiums, where the fundamental topics of the day were debated, always began with a glass our two of wine to get conversations flowing. “In vino veritas” was the sentiment of the time. And in today’s world, where racism, hatred and right wing regimes are threatening to overtake us, it appears we need this social lubricant more than ever. We need to be reminded that we are capable of creating and sharing beauty.
At a simpler, and perhaps more fundamental level, we need the sheer pleasure wine brings. When I think back on my life, every celebration, every moment of hapiness, and even the times of great sadness were accompanied by wine. At Christmas dinner, a hearty cheers with vintage Port. On my wedding day, a Champagne toast. When my father passed away, a raised glass of grand cru white Burgundy.
So if the world goes to hell in a hand basket, you will find me in the cellar with as large a crowd as a can gather, polishing off the Pauillac.