How do you consume wine?

Wine is quintessentially anthropomorphic – it is imbued with humanlike characteristics, motivations, intentions, or emotions.

Epley et al. 2007

Wine is experimental, social, cultural and can be educational. Wine is, after all, a definitively human phenomenon, made by people for people to experience and joy. The main question of this post is how do you consume wine but also how and why do you behave in certain way choosing and tasting a wine. Is there any chance that your choices are being influenced by issues outside of you and not related to the taste itself?

What I strongly believe is the educational side of wine. Once you start consuming wine, it’s like you’re on an endless journey. Everyone asks basic questions about the wine they are drinking. Questions like from where the wine comes from, or the grape variety, or the year. Even if they don’t know what exactly the real meaning and implications of the answers.

Do you believe that knowing the history of wine in general, knowing how it is made, having even a basic notion of different styles will help you better appreciate it? And knowing that virtually every aspect of taste and aroma in wine can be chemically manipulated and adjusted? Will this affect your final experience when choosing, tasting and understanding a wine?

Personally, all of these aspects significantly affect my overall tasting experience. When I began my journey of wine knowledge I had no idea how vast this world is and how uncertain and doubtful the liquid inside the bottle can be. In general, knowing more about how a particular wine was made, whether it is made by hand or industrially, makes me change my perception of quality. Today I prefer a wine made by hand, respecting the characteristics of the grape in the vineyard. I believe 95% of the quality of a wine depends on how healthy the fruit is in the vineyard.

I don’t like to feel influenced by marketing, beautiful labels or fictional stories about the tradition of a particular product. I like to understand how what I consume was made and why those characteristics of color, texture, aroma and taste are present in the wine I am consuming. Maybe knowing all this you might stop finding faults in artisanal wine and, like me, you may find the perfection of chemically treated wine strange.

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Storytelling and the wine market.

Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values.

But what is the relationship between storytelling and the wine market? I believe we have to start by understanding what wine is in terms of product. I can simply define wine as an alcoholic beverage obtained from the fermentation of grape juice. It’s a very simple definition and very cold don’t you think?

I believe that the right definition of wine must bring with it all the historical burden, the tradition, the millennial cultural heritage, the bond with the territory, and so on. From all this together we can understand what wine really is and its importance in the history of mankind. Where I live, for example, wine is so ingrained in popular culture that even in my children’s elementary school math is taught using the vineyard and winemaking as a backdrop for operations.

For some peoples, wine is a ancient tradition that has always been there and is a fundamental part of the local culture and life of all. For others where there is no culture of wine production, only its consumption already brings the desire to understand what are the cultural differences and terroir of its production that make the wine of the same grape variety but different places have different characteristics.

In this context, over time the need has arisen to narrate for the consumer the link between tradition, history, territory, family, values, land, climate, among others, with the wine being consumed. From this was created the Wine Teller.

The fascist ultra-conservative speech in Brazil, the so-called “economic liberalism” and the Brazilian wine market

Brazil is experiencing an unprecedented crisis mainly because it strongly extrapolates the economic crisis and is bringing out a conservatism that was shrouded in population. Given the degree of ignorance of the majority, some ultra-conservative and even fascist appeals are finding echo in those less enlightened when it comes to civil liberties and human rights. However, for the consumption of wine I understand that it doesn’t matters. At least for those who can buy, since the policies of false economic liberalism currently practiced in Brazil are considerably affecting the consumption capacity of the middle class.

The fact is, with the exception of communities formed by European immigration as Italians, Portuguese and Germans, the consumption of wine is not a tradition in Brazil. The most consumed and popular alcoholic beverages in Brazil are still beer and cachaça. I believe that cachaça is the most similar in terms of tradition compared to wine nowadays. Cachaça is a distillate obtained from sugar cane produced practically throughout the Brazilian territory and has a great tradition since Brazil was a Portuguese colony.

But let’s go back to the wine. The consumption of wine in Brazil has been increasing every year. I believe currently the only obstacle to the popularization of wine consumption is the price of the product and the crises facing the country. According to Wine Intelligence study commissioned by IBRAVIN, about 32 million Brazilians said they had consumed wine in the last 30 days, 66 million said they had consumed wine in the last 6 months while 14 million said they consume wine daily.

In the eyes of the European who has an average per capita wine consumption of 40 liters per year, Brazilian numbers may not seem stimulating. However it is necessary to understand the market and take a look at the historical series so as not to be influenced by the 2 liters per capita consumed on average annually by Brazilians. Brazil is currently the 15th largest wine producer in the world and already exports its product to 59 countries. Let’s bet that the Brazilian market continues to advance and grow.