‘Wineism’: A po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of wine that es­pouses tol­er­ance

The Washington Post - - FOOD - DAVE MCINTYRE McIntyre blogs at dmwine­line.com. On Twit­ter: @dmwine. food@wash­post.com

When we are in a wine store choos­ing a bot­tle to take home for din­ner, our choices es­sen­tially boil down to “Does it taste good?” and “Is the price right?” Be­yond those ba­sic con­cerns, though, choices abound. Maybe we choose a wine be­cause the la­bel is at­trac­tive. Or it’s lo­cal. Some wines’ prof­its sup­port phil­an­thropic causes or so­cial ac­tivism. Per­haps we fa­vor en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly wines that ad­ver­tise sus­tain­able, or­ganic or bio­dy­namic prac­tices. Some peo­ple fa­vor wines from small fam­ily pro­duc­ers rather than large cor­po­ra­tions.

Those choices re­flect who we are and our out­look on life. But is there a com­mon out­look, or phi­los­o­phy, or even po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy that de­fines wine lovers? The Bri­tish wine writer An­drew Jef­ford, in a Jan­uary col­umn on De­canter.com, the web­site of Bri­tain’s lead­ing wine mag­a­zine, ar­gued that there is — or there should be.

Jef­ford called this out­look “Wineism.” That’s not an ap­peal­ing name, but I’ve yet to think of a bet­ter one. And it’s a de­cid­edly pro­gres­sive view, em­brac­ing tol­er­ance and in­clu­sion, which could be con­tro­ver­sial. I know peo­ple in the wine trade who are po­lit­i­cally con­ser­va­tive. Yet while they might not lean to the left as Jef­ford does, they in­vari­ably share the gen­er­ous spirit that unites wine lovers.

Jef­ford was re­act­ing to three po­lit­i­cal move­ments he saw en­dan­ger­ing the free trade of wine: Cat­alo­nia’s in­de­pen­dence move­ment, which threat­ens to tear Spain asun­der; the Bri­tish exit from the Euro­pean Union; and Pres­i­dent Trump’s ad­vo­cacy of trade tar­iffs and skep­ti­cism to­ward cli­mate change.

Wine was a ma­jor com­mod­ity of in­ter­na­tional com­merce in me­dieval times, and it has al­ways pro­moted and ben­e­fited from free trade. “Our wine is what it is to­day be­cause of 800 years of in­ter­na­tional trade,” Jef­ford ar­gues. “Its sen­sual in­tri­cacy and re­fine­ment, and the pros­per­ity of those in­volved in farm­ing, cre­at­ing and trad­ing it, would col­lapse with­out in­ter­na­tional trade.” A love of wine is con­ducive to an in­ter­na­tional out­look. It ar­gues against parochial­ism.

Wine cel­e­brates dif­fer­ence. “If you drink branded vodka, whisky or beer, you repli­cate the same ex­pe­ri­ence each time,” Jef­ford wrote. “If you drink wine, you dive into a world of mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ences” — vin­tage, place of ori­gin, grape va­ri­ety, etc. “Wine teaches us the valu­able les­son that noth­ing is ever truly the same twice, ei­ther in place or time, and that dif­fer­ences merit re­spect.”

Wine also re­fuses to be locked into a sin­gle iden­tity. It may be red, but also Amer­i­can, Cal­i­for­nian, caber­net, mer­lot or pinot, Napa or Santa Bar­bara, How­ell Moun­tain or Happy Canyon. And I’m not just an old white male. I’m a French soul trapped in­side a Scot­tish-Ir­ishAmer­i­can body, and I em­brace my mul­ti­ple iden­ti­ties and con­tra­dic­tions.

And rather than “Bri­tain first” with Brexit, or “Amer­ica First,” Jef­ford ad­vo­cates “the en­vi­ron­ment first.” “Wine is agri­cul­ture, and agri­cul­ture is wholly de­pen­dent on the en­vi­ron­ment and our re­la­tion­ship to the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said, re­mind­ing us that “there are no na­tional bound­aries in na­ture.”

That brings us back to how we spend our money when buy­ing wine. Sev­eral winer­ies ded­i­cate some or all of the pro­ceeds from cer­tain wines to char­i­ta­ble causes. Smith Story Wines do­nates cloth­ing to dis­placed moth­ers and their chil­dren. Colby Red sup­ports re­search on heart dis­ease. Lubanzi Wines sends money back to South Africa to help sup­port the farm­ers who grow the grapes, with the catch­phrase, “Lo­cally run, glob­ally minded.”

Iron Horse Vine­yards, a Sonoma County pro­ducer of top­notch sparkling wines, re­cently re­leased the 10th vin­tage of its Ocean Re­serve bub­bly, with pro­ceeds ben­e­fit­ing the Na­tional Geo­graphic So­ci­ety. The win­ery has also re­leased wines in sup­port of pro­gres­sive causes, such as a Rain­bow Cu­vee for LGBT rights and an­other to cel­e­brate the Supreme Court’s rul­ing in fa­vor of mar­riage equal­ity.

Iron Horse do­nates $4 for each sale of Ocean Re­serve to Na­tional Geo­graphic’s ef­forts to es­tab­lish ma­rine pro­tected ar­eas and pro­mote sus­tain­able fish­ing prac­tices. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Joy Ster­ling says the Ocean Re­serve cam­paign re­flects viti­cul­ture’s re­la­tion­ship to the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The health of the ocean is key to our mi­cro­cli­mate and abil­ity to make bub­bly on this level of fi­nesse and el­e­gance,” Ster­ling said in an email. “It is all in­ter­twined.”

Such are the choices we make when we pur­chase wine. Skep­tics needn’t feel left out. They may pre­fer Iron Horse’s de­li­cious Rus­sian Cu­vee, or per­haps a tasty bub­bly from Trump Win­ery. Each year I rec­om­mend kosher wines for Passover, and this year’s crop is the best so far. They in­clude a de­light­ful Cotes du Rhone and Bordeaux from the ex­cel­lent 2016 vin­tage in France, a de­li­cious chardon­nay from Chile, a lush Is­raeli caber­net and a zesty South African sau­vi­gnon blanc spiced with a bit of hu­mor. That last wine is the only one in this bunch to catch on to a po­ten­tial mar­ket niche by not­ing “ve­gan” on the la­bel. All kosher wines are ve­gan, as the rules do not al­low use of an­i­mal-based fin­ing agents to clar­ify the wine. — D.M. GREAT VALUE La Fille du Boucher Cotes du Rhone 2016 Rhone Val­ley, France, $18 This lively wine is just what we ex­pect from Cotes du Rhone: bright dark fruit fla­vors with a hint of wild herbs and moun­tain air. I’d drink this any day of the year, but prefer­ably the day af­ter it’s opened; it gets even bet­ter with some air. Kosher for Passover. Al­co­hol by vol­ume: 14 per­cent. Dis­trib­uted by M. Tou­ton: Avail­able in the Dis­trict at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Cap­i­tal City Wine & Spir­its, Cleve­land Park Wine and Spir­its, Eye Street Cel­lars, Harry’s Re­serve Fine Wine & Spir­its, Ma­gruder’s, Mor­ris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s, Wine Spe­cial­ist. Avail­able in Mary­land at the Bot­tle Shop and Wine Har­vest in Po­tomac, Bradley Food & Bev­er­age in Bethesda, Moti’s Mar­ket in Rockville, Old Farm Liquors and River­side Liquors in Fred­er­ick, Quench! Beer-Wine-Deli in Sil­ver Spring, Sile­sia Liquors in Fort Wash­ing­ton. La Ci­tadelle de Dia­mant Mar­ius Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon 2016 Galilee, Is­rael, $29 A stylish splurge, with caber­net sau­vi­gnon’s rich, vel­vety tex­ture and black cur­rant fla­vors, spiced up with white pep­per from 20 per­cent caber­net franc in the blend. Kosher for Passover. ABV: 14 per­cent. Dis­trib­uted by M. Tou­ton: Avail­able in the Dis­trict at Cap­i­tal City Wine & Spir­its, Eye Street Cel­lars, Mor­ris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s. Avail­able in Mary­land at Kosher Bite in Bal­ti­more, Old Farm Liquors in Fred­er­ick, Vine­yards Elite in Pikesville. Avail­able in Vir­ginia at Chain Bridge Cel­lars in McLean. GREAT VALUE Alta Delta Chardon­nay 2015 Cen­tral Val­ley, Chile, $12 Mouth-fill­ing and soft in tex­ture, this de­li­cious and gul­pa­ble chardon­nay of­fers an or­chard’s worth of fruit. Me­vushal, Kosher for Passover “and year round.” ABV: 13.5 per­cent. Dis­trib­uted by DMV: Avail­able in the Dis­trict at Chevy Chase Wine & Spir­its, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Yes! Or­ganic Mar­ket (14th Street). Avail­able in Mary­land at Coun­try Liquors in West­min­ster, Daw­son’s Mar­ket and Moti’s Mar­ket in Rockville, Fen­wick Beer & Wine in Sil­ver Spring, Good to Go in Friendsville, Kosher Bite and Vil­lage Wines & Liquors in Bal­ti­more, Mont­gomery County Liquor & Wine (Cabin John, Goshen Cross­ing, Wheaton), Old Farm Liquors in Fred­er­ick. La Tour Pavée Bordeaux Supérieur 2016 Bordeaux, France, $16 La Tour Pavée took full ad­van­tage of Bordeaux’s ex­cel­lent vin­tage in 2016. The wine of­fers black cur­rant fla­vors and a graphite min­er­al­ity that wine fiends tend to call “pen­cil lead” or “pen­cil shav­ings.” It’s a Bordeaux sig­na­ture and might just take you back to school. Me­vushal, Kosher for Passover. ABV: 12.5 per­cent. Dis­trib­uted by M. Tou­ton: Avail­able in the Dis­trict at Cap­i­tal City Wine & Spir­its, Cleve­land Park Wine and Spir­its, Eye Street Cel­lars, Gi­ant Liquor, Rodman’s, Wine Spe­cial­ist. Avail­able in Mary­land at Bradley Food & Bev­er­age in Bethesda, Down­town Crown Wine & Beer in Gaithers­burg, Hil­lan­dale Beer & Wine in Sil­ver Spring, Moti’s Mar­ket in Rockville, Nick’s of Calvert in Prince Fred­er­ick, Old Farm Liquors and River­side Liquors in Fred­er­ick, Olde Solo­man’s Wine & Spir­its in Edge­wa­ter, the Per­fect Pour in Elkridge, Wine Source in Bal­ti­more. Avail­able in Vir­ginia at Chain Bridge Cel­lars and the Vine­yard in McLean, the Wine Out­let (Great Falls, Vi­enna). GREAT VALUE Un­ortho­dox Kosher Sau­vi­gnon Blanc 2017 South Africa, $14 This kosher white wine has a sense of hu­mor to match the zip of acid­ity and guava fla­vors that make it as re­fresh­ing as it is de­li­cious. The same la­bel also has a de­li­cious caber­net-shi­raz blend. Marked as Me­vushal, Kosher for Passover and ve­gan. ABV: 13.5 per­cent. Dis­trib­uted by M. Tou­ton: Avail­able in the Dis­trict at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Cap­i­tal City Wine & Spir­its, Cleve­land Park Wine and Spir­its, Con­necti­cut Av­enue Wine & Liquor, Harry’s Re­serve Fine Wine & Spir­its, Rodman’s. Avail­able in Mary­land at Cork 57 Beer and Wine in Bethesda; Miller’s Del­i­catessen in Bal­ti­more; Moti’s Mar­ket in Rockville; Old Farm Liquors, River­side Liquors and Ye Olde Spirit Shop in Fred­er­ick; Quench! Beer-Wine-Deli in Sil­ver Spring; Vine­yards Elite in Pikesville; Wine Bin in El­li­cott City; the Wine Har­vest in Po­tomac. Avail­able in Vir­ginia at Chain Bridge Cel­lars in McLean, Crys­tal City Wine Shop in Ar­ling­ton, De­part­ment of Beer and Wine and Un­wined in Alexandria, Kohlmann’s Neigh­bor­hood Mar­ket in Rich­mond, the Town Duck in War­ren­ton; on the list at Perly’s in Rich­mond. Avail­abil­ity in­for­ma­tion is based on dis­trib­u­tor records. Wines might not be in stock at ev­ery listed store and might be sold at ad­di­tional stores. Prices are ap­prox­i­mate. Check Wi­ne­searcher.com to ver­ify avail­abil­ity, or ask a fa­vorite wine store to or­der through a dis­trib­u­tor.

DEB LIND­SEY FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

LAURA LAKEWAY FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

DCan­ter wine bou­tique in South­east Wash­ing­ton ar­ranges small­pro­duc­tion vin­tages by fla­vor, not re­gion.

PETER SUM­MERS/REUTERS

Wine was a com­mod­ity of in­ter­na­tional com­merce in me­dieval times, and it has al­ways pro­moted and ben­e­fited from free trade.

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