The New Age

If you are under 26 and have always belonged to a country club/ traveled to Europe or your parents used to take you for Michelin star restaurant meals whilst they could have saved their money and gone to Pizza Hut – then perhaps the wine world and its relation to food makes a whole lot more sense to you than it does to most.

However – the set of people described above make up such a small fraction of the population as to be insignificant. For most people, wine begins to make sense toward the end of college as friends swap different gifts amongst each other for 21st birthdays/ graduation parties/ celebrations on the first pay cheque and so on. We experiment with single malts and learn what we can about cigars. But for most of us, we’re not going to go on to become single malt drinkers on a daily basis and luckily we don’t have many people in their 20’s walking around sucking down on Stogies.

For those of us who didn’t spend our childhood with silverware and napkins in the country club whilst we were served fromage with wine on pewter trolleys wheeled in by a waiter in a bow-tie – wine makes very little sense in the context of ‘cheese and wine’ which belongs to another century entirely.

Our generation understands wine in the context of friends. Wine, for us, inhabits the same realm as movies, music and novels in that it’s got to do with personal taste, and you’re only really likely to try something that’s recommended to you in a personal setting. Our generation grew up with dollar signs placed above our heads by tycoons on Madison Avenue – and instead of all that advertising making us gullible, we’re simply jaded and distrustful of salespeople and marketing.

A bottle of wine is costly and it could well be something that you won’t enjoy, as some people hate white wine, other’s wont drink White Zin and certain people won’t touch Yellow Tail. Movies are the same as some of us don’t watch RomCom’s and other can’t handle thrillers, and Ebert and Roeper’s ‘two thumbs up’ doesn’t guarantee you’re going to enjoy it. It’s all a case of ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’, and if you don’t make the right choice you’re likely to spend money and waist time on something you didn’t enjoy. For this reason, a lot of people wont give wine a second chance because ‘its just not their thing.’

For a lot of people in the wine world, they’re happy for millions of people to denounce nice wine, because it makes them feel ‘in the know.’ But for the thousands of vineyards, such elitism is the bane of the industry as it creates a jaded consumer set who think far too highly of themselves.

Wine, in its best form, is a unifier. It’s shared between friends and is something you learned to appreciate and love in throws of conversation, holidays and parties – much in the same way as you discover your favourite author or learn about a new band from someone who burns a CD of MP3’s for you. We are a generation of connections and contacts who are linked into our peer groups in a way our parents weren’t. Today if you grew up in Pennsylvania, went to college in DC and took your first job in Chicago then it wouldn’t be surprising to anyone that you’d kept in regular contact with your friends despite huge distances, and still sent them presents on their birthday from time to time. Space is no longer a barrier or even a factor in friends (something the recent spate of Facebook addicts will attest to) and the internet has created a highly permeable membrane through which information is transmitted between like-minded people (techno-tribalism) at indeterminable speeds.

Wine cannot exist in a vacuum – and for it to succeed with our younger generation en masse, it can’t continue to preach the aging credo of ‘cheese and wine, cheese and wine!’ Wine is a social beverage. Wine is a unifier. Wine builds community, experience, culture and friendship – and the part wine plays in is merely to be at the center of the wheel, from which all other ‘taste’ be it music, travel, art or clothing will spoke out.

No tags for this post.

Posted in Wine | No Comments »