Monday, September 15, 2008

Politics & Wine!

Just received my copy of Tyler Colman's "Wine Politics" but since I am of to Italy in a couple of days, I will have to read it when I get back. But here are a few of my thoughts on politics and how they have influenced wine and wine consumption for thousands of years. Speaking of Italy, I guess you could say that is where it all began. When Roman armies invaded and conquered one European country after another they planted vineyards along the way. Not very nice to be taken over by a foreign army but how often do you end up with some nice vineyards in your backyard planted by your enemy?
It is generally believed that Georgia is the oldest wine region in the world where it all began some 7000 years ago and it is often referred to as 'the birthplace of wine'
Some archaeologists now believe that wine may first have been produced in Iran.
However I have"Georgia on my mind" when it comes to classic manipulation of wine for political purposes. Back in March of 2006 Russia put an embargo on wine from Georgia
claiming to have found heavy metals and pesticides in their wines. A little political economic blackmail to punish pro west Georgia. Russia had been the largest consumer of Georgian wine accounting for up to 85% of its production. But over the next couple of years Georgia found markets in other European countries, notably Poland. Taking it one step further the recent invasion of Georgia by the Russian army resulted in Polish wine drinkers, in support and solidarity with Georgia, to encourage all Polish people to drink Georgian wines. Watch for Russia to take punitive measures to punish those popular pro west Poles.
And then of course there is always the "politically correct" factor in wine consumption. A few years back a good friend of mine, who happened to be the XO on one of Canada's navy ships, was informed that Canada's ambassador to the UN would be making a visit to our west coast navy base in Esquimalt and that the ambassador wished to have a meal with the officers on his ship.
He was instructed as to the wines to be served with dinner but when my friend read that they were French wines he had a rebellious fit. Not on his ship! British Columbia wines or nothing. Hastily the protocol officer for the ambassador admitted this "oversight" and BC wines would be served.
In my own case I fought the government for 4 years in an attempt to get a licence to sell BC wines. Finally BC's Attorney General himself overturned the liquor control board's decision not to give me a licence. Talk about heavy handed politics! And so on and on it goes. Yes, I am afraid politics in wine is here to stay. I am sure there are countless stories out there about politics and wine. What is yours?

No comments: