A Necessity of Life
What a Collector!
Wine is the avant-garde of a sophisticated culture – society’s intellectual leading edge. The smartest are smart about wine. Great cultures and those who defined their culture invariably exalted wine with special passions and deep knowledge. Wine took on a place as important as that of art and music. For our most wondrous achievements we celebrate and toast with wine. Odysseus was a renowned lover of wine. As was Plato, “Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the gods to man.”
Diverse geniuses opined about wine. “God made only water, but man made wine,” ennobled Victor Hugo. Ernest Hemingway was a famed devotee of wine and everything about it. Hemingway held wine in his heart as “One of the most civilized things in the world.”
This country’s ultimate intellectual and wine worshiper was Founding Father Thomas Jefferson. He spent months in France and Italy visiting the famed wine regions absorbing the art of wine. He drank wine “a bottle at a time” and developed an enviable wine cellar (shown above). He planted a vineyard at Monticello and spent 50 years on that serious pursuit. His wine expenditures each year ran $10,000. In present-day dollars that’s anywhere from $1 million to $2 million. What a collector! We like to think that if he lived today Carmody McKnight would be high on his collection list. Jefferson biographer and historian, Geoff Smock: “For Jefferson, wine was a metaphor for the positive attributes and institutions of human society that he zealously believed in, essentially standing for everything that he held to be innately good in humankind. Every ideal and noble pursuit that Jefferson cherished in his life was expressed, at many points, with and through wine. At his heart, Jefferson was a romantic and wine was his muse.” As Jefferson wrote in a letter, “Good wine is a necessity of life.”
Would he consider the vast majority of wine made today “good” and a “necessity”? Would he relish a bottle of pesticide poisoned wine, also chemically loaded in order to achieve fake flavors and then the unholy concoction dangerously intensified by alcohol?
In this genetically mutated world of ours the industrial wines (that the vast majority drink) would be a horror story for our great intellectuals of the past (and every other wine drinker for that matter, most relying on wine for health!). Wine had a special place in civilization and represented its finest. Can we get back to that supreme moment again? Yes, but we must all demand that the wine industry follows viticultural truths and science and health-demanding common sense!