Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Politics of Wine... distributors, mobsters, environmentalists, regulators, and critics

Unlike what we just experienced this past Tuesday, with the US elections; The politics of wine often operates out of the limelight. Celebrity winemakers may come off as all powerful when it comes to making wine, but they are subject to all kinds of political forces.

Politics controls not only which grapes grow where, what can be written on the wine label, which wines are exported or imported, which wines are obtainable in local stores, and how much a wine costs, but, practically most significant, it also affects the quality of the wine in the bottle.

For example there’s distributors, mobsters, environmentalists, regulators, and critics and all of them have a hand in the producing, selling, and delivering the glass of wine we ultimately drink.

For instance, both France and America produce a lot of the quality wines we enjoy today and there are all kinds of battles regarding  the soil and the societal influences and each has different aspects that affect outcomes that have predisposed both the rise in quality and the broad social acceptance or rejection of drinking wine; just like politicians.

Heck a lot of the grapes wine ends up in other places to the consternation of winemakers such as fuel products and probably not why the wanted to be in the wine business at all.
A lot of the time the term politics is often understood negatively. It is an as an obstacle to a desirable result; that definition applies to the wine industry insofar as politics often increases red tape, reduces consumer choice in wine and raises prices. But in the United States, which will eventually be the worlds largest consumer of wine, shifting fortunes and odd alliances have now led to groups aligning to produce some positive results for consumers.

While in France there’s anxiety due to an abundance of French producers’ associations which may not be providing the vitality and social capital needed now to improve quality sufficiently to enable their products to compete.
There’s a great book by Tyler Colman called Wine Politics that goes into depth on the subject with statistics as well as the insightful writing of Time’s writer George Taber and author/educator Kevin Zraly which touch on these developments.

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