The problem is that people write a lot about wine, maybe too much. It’s hard to find the path to an authentic narrative of wine, within this sea of words. The old descriptive method – color, scent, taste and score – still works. But it’s marking time, it barely stirs interest.
Finding new interpretative keys is not easy. But there is one, and it is to get back to writing. To a true writing. I mean to a good writing. I mean to storytelling true stories.
I think this is the sense of a very nice book released this week in the US. The title is “Hungry for Wine”. The title itself is provocative, to speak of a “hunger” for wine.
The author is a wine journalist, Cathy Huyghe. In her articles she always underscores the human, social, and therefore sometimes political dimension of wine. Because the secret of narrative hides there, tucked inside the stories of people, in the relationships of their lives and with what happens around them. Even when it comes to wine, you can have a humanistic vision.
This way, you really can “see the world – see its people and countries — through the lens of a wine glass,” as the subtitle of the book says.
This way, by reading “Hungry for Wine,” you realize that – yes, of course – people make wine in order to earn enough money to support their families and their companise. But wine was – or still is – a metaphor for their way of seeing the world. Shouldn’t this be the real essence of making wine, and even of drinking wine?
So, this way you can understand that making wine in Syria is an act of courage that shows that a nation is more than its religion or its regime. You can understand that writing about wine in Turkey can cost you your freedom and your job and the closure of your newspaper. You can understand that the vine can nourish young people’s hope in Greece, a country that is struggling in a deep crisis. You can understand that a winery can help remove the ghosts of apartheid in South Africa.
Cathy Huyghe tells twelve stories like these in her book. Sometimes those stories intersect with the greater narrative, the one that changes the destiny of people and nations. It’s what Livio Felluga tells with his stubborn work of winemaker in border lands, which have been a melting pot of nations and races and now express Venetian culture and Friulian culture and Austrian culture and Italian culture and mountain culture and sea culture.
In her book, Cathy Huyghe narrates stories of vineyards and lives under the point of view of people. Wine – the wine culture – is a thread that unites pages and experiences. As it should always be, when it comes to wine.
But there is something else in a wine and in the pleasure of sharing it.
We take it for granted that inside every bottle you open, there are stories of men and women and nations and joys and suffering. But when you are at home, when you prepare dinner, when you read a book, when you go about your everyday life, you wonder if you’re numb to all the stories, all the humanity that you’ve seen through the lens of a glass.
You wonder if you’ve lost the pleasure of drinking a glass of wine with the man – the woman – who shares your life right next to you, that person you love. The answer is simple. The answer is to pour a glass and drink. And drink it for the pleasure of drinking it. For you, for your life, for your humanity.
Maybe you should remember what a wine expert, Baron de Rothschild, said: “Just drink the stuff,” simply drink what you have in your glass. “In other words?” asked Cathy Huyghe. The answer is clear: “Stop. Thinking”.
Yes, sometimes you can – you must – desire just to drink your wine. Not necessarily thinking, nor mentally filling tasting notes or making evaluations.
Drinking for the pure pleasure of drinking, together with somebody you like to share a bottle with, to share some pleasure with.
Sometimes life – your life, your everyday life – is better if you have a glass in your hand. This is a great “little secret” of wine. A secret collected in the last chapter of “Hungry for Wine”. A very nice way to finish a story. Beautiful.
Now it is time to close this text that pretend to be a review. So I say that – yes – there is room for a new narrative of wine. Cathy Huyghe shows that there is it. You should read her book.
The publisher is Provisions Press. You can buy it on Amazon: EUR 4.46 for the ebook and 19,93 for the hard copy. I prefer paper, usually.
Oh, I forgot: it’s in English.