This is the last column from me here, for the known future at least. Which, let’s be honest, is nowhere past my first cup of coffee tomorrow morning.
It’s been a blast. Or, as much of a blast as a wine column can be. I have stood on a soapbox a couple times and railed against the insidiously commercial, cynically sweet, and risibly reduced-alcohol wines that plague our shelves. I have suggested areas for you to travel, which wines I think are delicious, and which events worth the ticket price, and I hope, even just once, encouraged you to drink something a little weirder, a little more expensive, a bit different.
For this last column I am going to try and sum that all up. This means, that in all likelihood it will end up as a totally subjective, hopefully heart-felt and probably misguided missive from a wine nerd. Not the best wine nerd, I’m always thirsty and my cellar is always empty, but rather just someone who has fallen hopelessly, financially-drainingly, liver-poundingly, give-me-that-last-goddamn-bottle-ly in love with wine.
Human beings, us savage, beautiful and woefully misguided species manage to screw up life for each other in a manner and intensity so outlandish, that our current survival is a weird sort of achievement in itself.
Despite all the evil and catastrophe we bring upon ourselves, I am convinced there is some sort of benevolent force pushing us on.
Whether it is god, chance, or the result of an attempt to find out what sort of a question you need to end up with 42, our little blue and green planet has produced self-fermenting fruit.
A fruit that, with little to no outside help, can turn from edible berry into a drink that washes away strain, welcomes consideration, stirs up merriment, and begs for conversation.
Archeologists reckon that humans worked this out around 7000-5000 BC. That is a long time ago. And while wine has been a generally western thing it has slowly spread meaning that today the only continent that does not grow grapes is Antarctica.
All right, so wine is historic, and grapes are all over the place. So what? Well here’s the thing. Wine has got here without the help of wine critics, bloggers and judges. Wine never needed 98 point scores, gold medals or lengthy tasting notes to be awesome.
Sure there have been some spectacular writers and personalities who have encouraged the spread of wine drinking, but they are merely pawns in the history of the grape, shadowed by thousands of years of fermenting, drinking and merrymaking.
What has this got to do with you? Well it’s simple. It doesn’t matter what you drink. It really doesn’t. The only people who really care are those selling the stuff. The wine industry, for some bizarre reason, has cloaked itself in snobbery, confusion, and hierarchy to create the myth that you, the consumer, do not understand wine, and understanding comes only through the opening of the wallet and entering the inner-sanctum of wine imbibers.
Well I’m calling bullshit. What’s there to understand? One thing: do you like wine?
That’s it. I can – and will – bang on for hours and hours about the restraint, the elegance, the beauty, and excitement of a wine I particularly enjoy; I will happily go on about its old vines, sense of place, and the rest trying to convince you that this wine is more than a simple beverage it’s a work of art.
I may not be wrong, but there is a strong possibility that you simply don’t give a fuck.
And just because you – like the majority of right-thinking, straight-talking busy people of the world today – don’t give that much of a fuck, does not mean you don’t ‘get wine’.
There is nothing to get apart from: do you like wine?
Like the English professor trying to convince a class of all tweeting, all texting, Bieber-loving 18 year-olds that George Herbert is a genius; there may be a few in the class who do too, but the majority will be all like, “Whaaat, 17th century, son you trippin.”
While the professor may be right as to the genius of Herbert’s 17th century religious poetry, what does it say about the kids who couldn’t give a toss? Nothing at all.
The wine world is bombarded with scores, competitions, blogs, medals and a host of other bullshit that attempts to convince you that there is an imaginary club of wine drinkers you need to get in on. You need to ‘get wine’. You need to be able to smell ‘vanilla’, ‘grass’ or whatever. You need drink ‘the good stuff’. You need to learn all the ‘rules’.
There is no club people, it’s all a goddamn hoax.
If you like wine you will find out more on your own, if you just want to forget your troubles with a box of tassies, so be it. There is very little difference between. It’s a drink western civilization has been drinking for a long long time, its kings, its peasants, it’s fools and geniuses. There is much to learn about it, but there are only two things to do with it: drink it, and be merry.
Follow Harry Haddon on Twitter, here.
Keep abreast on his latest thoughts on wine and having long hair as a man, here.
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