Wine Either is, or Isn’t, Just A “__________”

What word do you suppose fills in the blank?


I was thinking “Product.”

Wine either is, or isn’t, just a product.

If it is, then it’s just price break to quality, and a rating. That’s all you need to shop.

No different than a pair of headphones, dishwashing liquid, a couch, a weather app, or a wet-wipe.

But what if it isn’t?


Then it’s narrative, and history, and technology, and family, and philosophy, and integrity, and magic, and mojo, and agriculture, and science, and art, and religion, and faith, and aesthetics, and world-view, and vision, and pleasure, and passion, and principle, and ritual.

Which makes shopping both more challenging, and more fascinating.

Personally, I think wine is one of those worlds that rewards knowledge. Wine gets exponentially more fun the more you learn.

Odd as it may seem, I know many a teetotaler who is fascinated by wine, and I know many a wine professional who doesn’t drink.

Which may not, in fact, be as strange as it seems.

What, for example, does it mean to “taste” jazz? Must you play it to know its flavor?

That depends on what it’s built for.

Is jazz built for listening to by others, or for playing by musicians?

Both, of course.

So is it so strange that wine should have fans amongst non-drinkers?

How about cooking?

I know, as but one example, a truly outstanding chef in New York who cooks for what is, by and large, a steakhouse; and a very reputable one at that. Himself? Vegan.

But he is fascinated by the process of cooking, and is in fact an arch proponent of the “whole animal” philosophy; that is to say, fully respecting the animal to the extent that you try to create edible offerings from every part of its body; a philosophy, in fact, that I think draws much of its power from his vegan principles.

A vegan chef who cooks meat for a living?

Why not?

Is that so different than a jazz critic/booking agent/club owner/fan that is tone-deaf and can’t play a note?

And is that so different from a teetotaling sommelier?

Believe it or not, there are a great many of them out there; including some who are quite famous and successful.

The point being, there is a lot more of interest to wine than just drinking it.

Consider the Ridge Vineyards website. On it, amongst other items, you can find information on everything from:

Ingredient Labeling, Sulfite Use, TTB laws, and Velcorin


Organic Farming, Solar Power, and Sustainable Water Management


Preparing Lamb Meatloaf


The San Andreas Fault

and from

Pre-Industrial Agriculture in the Santa Clara Valley


Numerology and Thelonious Monk!

(Ok, admittedly, that last one was from our blog, but still!)

The point is, either wine is just a product, or it isn’t.

So, for you, is it is or is it ain’t?

Categories: Business of Wine, Food & Wine Pairing, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Food Pairing, Wine & Music, Wine & Philosophy, Wine and Jazz, Winemaking

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