Wine from Scratch: A Global Approach to Wine

October 7, 2009

Anyone that knows me knows how obsessed I can be about getting information. Hey, what can I say, I’m a do it yourselfer with an addiction for answers. This is especially true when it comes to wine. There’s just so much to know, that sometimes I have trouble drawing the line between beverage and obsession. Ask my wife, she’ll tell you!

I’m not one to just walk the line, or drink the grape flavored Kool-Aid as they say. I want to know why things are the way they are. If someone tells me that I need to lay a bottle down for a few years before drinking, I want to know why. When a waiter hands me the cork at a restaurant, what’s that all about? These are things I want to know.

So, on a recent trip to Italy, you can imagine how frustrated I was when I realized that I truly knew nothing about the world of wine. Don’t get me wrong; I knew all about the grapes, the growing regions, and how the wine was made, etc. But what I was truly clueless about was the global culture of it all and how differently wine is perceived in other parts of the world.

In Italy, for example, wine is an everyday phenomenon. It’s ingrained in the culture. At local events and festivals they erect portable wine bars. Not because it’s a “wine event”, but because it’s an event. Wine is sold in ice cream shops and coffee bars. It’s everywhere. Grandparents drink it. Young adults drink it. Even kids drink it. There’s no level of knowledge that has to be reached before you’re deemed worthy enough to truly appreciate wine.

This open approach to wine is unlike many “new world” countries (areas outside the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe) with shorter wine histories, where we have a tendency to overanalyze wine instead of just enjoying it. On this point, I’m  as guilty as the next person. Everything I thought I knew about wine came from the bottle or glass, magazines or books. But for many people around the world, including those in Italy, wine is a lifestyle, a cultural constant passed down for generations.

So, I invite you to join me as I start over in order to gain a more global appreciation for fermented grape juice. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and learn about wine from scratch.

* Marcus Pape has worked in media and design for over 10 years with an extensive background in all forms of visual communication. As a proclaimed vinophile Marcus hopes to leverage his abilities to inspire interest in wine, recently launching – an online resource for the growing wine community, where both popular wine bloggers and businesses come together to connect and share information on wine.



Suzi's picture

Great entry, Marcus! What part of Italy were you exploring? I lived and studied in Spain, where wine is also heavily ingrained into the culture. If you are looking to explore other parts of Europe and their wine cultures, Spain is another country that could be of interest (research the botellón!). Happy travels and wining!

Marcus Pape's picture

Cinque Terre, Piedmont, and the northern lake region. Spain is a great place as well. I haven't been there for about 10-years, but would love to make it back soon. Botellón sounds like my kind of party! ;)

Barnaby Dorfman's picture

So true, so true! I remember buying this amazing wine in the South of Italy from a communal winery. Local folks would take their grapes to this facility, and based on how many kilos they submitted, they would get a certain number of liters back. To fund the equipment, maintenance, and staffing a certain % was sold to the general public. It was fresh, light, and slightly bubbly, largely because aging was minimal and everything was done in stainless or concrete tanks. No labels or ratings...we brought our own bottles, paid about a buck a liter, and it was fantastic with local grilled fish!