Senseless 'without'

Without sulfites, without additives, without alcohol*, without sugar, without allergens, without pesticides, without gluten, without glycemic index, without this or without that, etc. That's what you could see displayed on some stands at the Wine Paris trade show a few weeks ago. Is there nothing left to preserve in wine? At least in the wine that I knew, that I grew up with? Has the past become so outdated that everything must be swept away? What do these "without" options offer besides "against" or "anti"? Doesn't this "without" society define itself negatively to the point that when you ask its supporters what they propose, the first response is usually "against" without concern for a "for." There's no joyful utopia on the horizon, just the simple rejection of wine as we know it or have known it, as if it were a symbol of a society to be destroyed, or rather deconstructed, according to the established formula. Isn't it ultimately the image of wine before wine itself that is under attack? I mean the image of a patriarchal, dominating, aging, and mercantile wine, that of an all-knowing mandarinate that smiles when confronted with health and environmental issues, that of a codified, elitist, and outdated consumption. There would be something to admit, wouldn't there? Bluster in words, opacity in practices, and condescending conservatism, there is plenty to feed the emergence of a cultural nihilism, isn't there? Under the pretext of "deconstructing" the image of wine, which has become the symbol of a rearguard battle, must we attack wine itself by stripping it of the artifices that have brought it this far?

On its website, the company © My Baggage offers air from different countries."

On its website, the company © My Baggage offers air from different countries.

Yes and no. And therein lies the problem because in this radicalized phase our country is going through, and more generally democratic societies, where everything is fair game to dismantle (from the statue of General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate troops (pro-slavery Southern camp), to that of Mahatma Gandhi for allegedly making racist remarks in his youth, everything is fair game!), we are rewriting the history of wine as a militant, one-sided history, by destroying what is uncomfortable without weighing the consequences. Wine, like its history, like History, is polysemic, meaning plural and contradictory. This is what makes it so unique and ultimately imperishable. Thus, starting from the principle that one cannot build a future without a past, we must learn to admit its ambivalence, its contradictions, and even its absurdities that have shaped an entire civilization that our era delights in destroying. Wine evolves, perhaps too slowly, but it evolves with its share of paradoxes that it is time to accept in order to avoid its total disappearance – wine is not up to challenging other alcoholic beverages. In his book "Animal Farm," George Orwell teaches us "that revolutions only bring about radical improvement if the masses are vigilant and know how to remove their leaders as soon as they have done their job." I believe it is time to remove the "without" which have done their job. Wine has emerged from its torpor.

The question remains whether this "without" wine, once again becoming wine, can once again seduce consumers. In an era that elevates idleness to virtue, intellectual work no longer appeals. How then can we restore to the amateur not the taste of wine, but the taste for contradiction, discordance, and disagreement that constitute society? Because that's what it's all about: no matter how many twists and turns are made, making wine friendly or sexy, nothing will change. In the end, wine, the one that is not an alcoholic beverage like the others, demands an effort. Unless we produce precisely a wine without effort! A wine that is without history, without style, and without mystery. A wine without originality, without significance, and without contradiction. Moreover, doesn't this "fruity" or "easy to drink" wine already exist as we've been hearing for some time? The wine lovers gets the wines they deserve. Let them not forget that their battles today will be tomorrow's norms and the rearguard of the day after. As for us, the "wine people," instead of wondering what wine we will leave to the wine lover, we would do well to ask ourselves what kind of wine lover we will leave to wine.

*No, a wine without alcohol is not a wine! But a fermented grape-based beverage with the alcohol removed.


Olivier Borneuf