I might regret this rant but here it goes…
Indulge my oversimplifications but there is this thing called ‘wine.’ We drink loads of the stuff and almost always consume it within 24 hours of purchasing it. We love wine and for good reason; it’s diverse, delicious and perfect with or without food! Although the truth is most people who buy wine to drink with dinner are doing so because they are trained to, and they do go well together, but so do lots of other drinks; tea, coffee, beer, carefully selected cocktails and even water!
Then there are ‘natural wines,’ which loosely means wine that is produced using minimal inputs, organic or bio-dynamic grapes and often wild yeast. Natural Wines can be unpredictable, unspecific characters and traditional wine makers and experts love to bash them for their imperfections, faults and flaws. In recent times the fad has moved away from natural wine bashing though, to more specific ‘orange’ wine bashing (referring to wines that generally have an orange hue from extensive skin contact).
Traditional winemakers are crying foul over this insurgence of difference and celebration of imperfection, while liberated new winemakers are banging drums about the demise of the status quo. If you peruse articles on this subject you will see passionate, occasionally heated, language from both sides. If you removed the word ‘wine’ and replaced it with the word ‘life,’ it makes for some truly excellent political prose!
As a chef, wine plays a very important role in my life and I think it’s an important tool in the dining experience. The thing is, these vocal winemakers, on both sides of the ‘natural wines divide,’ are doing my head in!
A few years ago winemaker and mate, Tom Shobrook from Adelaide, gave me a bottle of his Mourvèdre. I opened it up (smelled unusual), poured it into a glass (looked murky) and I tasted it (quirky, full, bright, intriguing, almost fizzy). It was bloody delicious. I then poured it for a table and they hated it and sent it back! What a beautiful moment and an excellent celebration of humanity – we are all different and like different things. Isn’t that the point?
So to you moaning winemakers filling media with you scathing criticism of ‘the other kind of winemaker,’ please chill out – you’re making me want to drink more tea!