The White Maidens
The globalization of wine probably does more good to the average wine drinker than the true wine lover. Hugely popular, international varieties have now reached every corner of the globe, producing wines of familiar styles at affordable prices. They are easily recognizable, as the vast majority of New World wine-producing countries use English for labeling, and do not have hierarchical ranking systems as intricate as those in France and Germany.
It is the malaise of our age that most people mistake popularity for quality, hence replacing meritocracy by populism. After all, if a heavily oaked and ready-to-drink “reserve” (whatever that may mean) “Cab” remains available at your local supermarket all year round, why go the extra mile to learn foreign languages, consult wine lexicons, understand legislations and classifications?
Besieged by populist consumerism, the fate of many indigenous varieties – or heritage wines – now hangs in the balance. At stake is not just the existence of a few obscure sub-species of vitis viniferous, but the survival of a history, culture and tradition, reminding us that wine is not some aristocratic nectar only for the rich and powerful, but a common drink shared by a multitude of people.
Indigenous varieties are often characterful and distinctive, embodying and reflecting their origin and terroir like no other. In addition to the unique tasting – or drinking, if you must – experience, the sense of adventure and discovery is every bit as satisfying.”
Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France, and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages.
“Macau Daily” on 7/3/2014