Written By John Poplin
Written By John Poplin
Well… unless your address is 123 Big Rock, it’s hard not to notice the explosion in wine here in the United States over the last several years. And as the Wine Universe continues to expand, it also brings new regions… new varietals… and even more approachable prices to the everyday consumer. So Why Wine? Well… why not wine?
Even though wine’s rising popularity has made the United States the leader in wine consumption around the globe, it also has made it more mainstream with the internet at the palm of your hand.
For years wine may have been seen by many as elusive, complicated, or even only a beverage for the elite. But thanks to technology a beverage that goes back nearly 8000 years is now being poured in more glasses than ever before. And the practice of growing grapes and making wine that was catapulted by the efforts of the Roman Empire and the church has seen technology compliment age old practices of not only the production but also how we consume wine.
But wine was not merely a beverage that our ancestors drank for the sole purpose of a good buzz. It became a part of rituals, ceremonies, and has long been a beverage to pair with regional foods. Though the United States in some ways has just been catching on in recent years, or decades… for the Europeans, wine has been deeply rooted in their culture for a very long time. I am reminded of an exchange student from France my family had when I was younger, and in ways it kind of caught me by surprise that he had been allowed to drink wine with his family before even becoming a teenager. So as our country continues to grow and accept other cultures, it also is being introduced to how wine is such an integral part of our neighbors to the East… and Far East’s way of life. Many whom have been bringing their ‘wine wisdom’ to this country since their boats first hit the coastal shores.
sometimes just have to stop, appreciate and enjoy wine for what it is
One of the most common questions I get is what wine to pair with what foods. And some of this as mentioned does come from regional cuisines from all over the world that we are introduced to as new restaurants pop up in our neighborhoods monthly.
“What wine should I pair with this chicken recipe?”
“Can I even pair a wine with asparagus?”
“I like big reds, but what else goes with a nice steak?”
“What wine goes with spicy foods?”
“Do I have to drink white wine with seafood?”
“Is there a wine to drink with Girl Scout cookies?”
All great questions… and there are hundreds more, but there are also even more answers. Yes… regional cuisine often meant drinking wines that would pair well with what a culture ate; communities close to the coast where seafood is plentiful would turn to lighter crisp wines that complemented the “daily catch.” And though yes, some “old schoolers” or “wine geeks” will reference the science side of wine and all the chemical components, sometimes we just have to stop and enjoy wine; not get too caught up with all the information being thrown at us on a daily basis.
Sure, research and technology has helped classify wines, discover the best soils and regions in which to cultivate certain grapes, as well as assisted in better wine making techniques… and even provided better glasses to drink wine from while also aiding how we store wine. But at the end of the day I always remember two things.
- First, wine is the product of agriculture. Without grapes, and the farmers who grow them (or the other fruits, etc. that “wine” can be made from), we wouldn’t be sipping on our favorite Pinot Noir at the end of a stressful day to unwind. Whether current day, or going back hundreds of years, a lot of hard work and behind the scenes stuff goes on in the industry. Grape growing and winemaking is something that has been handed down generation to generation in some families… and regions. When I tell people what I do, or wine industry jobs I’ve had, I often get the “Ooh, what a cool and glamourous job.” If only they knew what goes on to get the bottle of wine on a retail shelf or a restaurant’s wine list.
- Secondly, and very important… wine is something to be enjoyed; sometimes without the “pomp and circumstance” behind some bottles, or thinking too much about what is in the glass. There are a lot of questions I’m always answering, as people drink wine for a variety of different reasons; but wine is made to enjoy. It pairs with food, or many wines are just meant to drink for the pure enjoyment of having a good glass of wine. It’s about conversations; either about the wine itself of just sharing a bottle with a good friend to catch up on each other’s life. Sometimes those conversation veer off about wines that are age worthy and how to store them correctly, or all the articles coming out on the health benefits of wine, and how “a glass a day is better than going to the gym.”
Sometimes the thirst for knowledge makes us forget what it’s all about, and we sometimes just have to stop, appreciate and enjoy wine for what it is; fermented grape juice.