Monday, May 13, 2024

Rant: Become a Wine Activist

"With our wine purchases, I believe, we can help advance regional peace, provide support for farmers in war-torn regions, have a voice in geopolitics, and aid in economic recoveries."
--Peter Weltman

When you purchase a bottle of wine, you're not just buying some alcohol. It can be a political decision, a moral decision, an economic decision. You can become, and should be, a wine activist. 

Back in 2017, SevenFiftyDaily published a fascinating article, "How Wine Buyers Can Become Activists" by Peter Weltman, a sommelier and writer in San Francisco. Peter describes how his view of being a sommelier shifted, of how he became more of an activist by "leveraging wine’s privileged standing to improve people’s lives." He even created a hashtag for this activism, #BorderlessWine, reflective of being adventurous in one's wine choices, going beyond the usual suspects. 

Unfortunately, much of the discussion on this topic has died off in the last several years. It was popular for a couple of years, but for unknown reasons, it didn't last. Peter's website is apparently gone, and the #BorderlessWine hashtag isn't used any longer. His thoughts though are probably even more important now than ever, in these politically turbulent times, so I wanted to promote his ideas once again. 

Wine is often seen as a mere luxury, something of little importance in the greater picture considering all of the problems in out world. However, wine purchases can actually have a significant impact in numerous ways, even on a global basis. Such purchases are vital to the economies and political stability of numerous countries. It can be a valuable export, provided other countries are willing to buy their wines. To assist these countries, we should consider that potential impact when we decide which wines to buy for our consumption.

In his article, Peter discusses wines made in Israel, Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, Palestine, and Georgia. One of the first examples he mentioned included a collaboration between a Palestinian grape grower and an Israeli winery. He continued on, mentioning Chateau Musar which continued to produce excellent wine through the unrest in Lebanon. These are people and countries worthy of your support, who are also producing quality wines. 

One of Peter's primary points is that "Financial support of a country’s wines contributes to the well-being of regions, countries, and producers." Countries like Greece, whose economy has undergone much turbulence, economically benefit if more people purchase their wines. Georgia, which is still recovering from when Russia controlled the country, also benefits from more people buying their wines. With our wallets and pocket books, we can help to bring about positive change. Although not mentioned in the article, Croatia falls into this category as well, having only achieved their independence about 30 years ago. Buying their wines supports that country, and I can personally attest to how many excellent wines they produce. 

Your support of wines from these regions should be easy because these countries are making plenty of delicious and interesting wines, often from unique and indigenous grapes. They often have lengthy wine histories, extending thousands of years into the past. They produce all types of wines, reds, whites, rosé, sparkling, dessert, fortified, and more. Wine lovers can learn so much by exploring these regions. I've introduced numerous people to wines from these regions and most often receive positive feedback from these people.

I strongly urge you to read Peter's article and then give much more consideration to which wines you purchase. Try to support and improve these regions by purchasing their wines, as well as spreading the word about their wines. If you are so inclined, become more of an advocate for these wines, becoming an unofficial ambassador. I often passionately advocate for these wine region, and will continue to do so. Please join me in this endeavor.

As Peter concludes, "Wine transcends borders and bridges cultures, and it can be used to improve lives if we make the right purchases."

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