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Is it Time for a “Slow Wine” Organization to Take Root?

Earlier this spring I had a moment of exceedingly rare clarity and I wondered to myself if there was a Slow Wine USA organization, the vinous equivalent to the Slow Food movement.  Food and wine go together, right?  And, there’s a similar companion movement in the wine industry for small, hand-crafted artisan brands, many that are organic or sustainable in nature.

By way of background and context, the Slow Food Movement was started by Carolo Petrini in 1986 and recognition that:

The industrialization of food was standardizing taste and leading to the annihilation of thousands of food varieties and flavors.  He wanted to reach out to consumers and demonstrate to them that they have choices over fast food and supermarket homogenization.  Soon after, Petrini realized that in order to keep those alternative food choices alive, it was imperative to be an eco-gastronomic movement—one that is ecologically minded and concerned with sustainability and sees the connection between the plate and planet.  Today, the organization that Petrini and his colleagues founded is active in over 100 countries and has a worldwide membership of over 80,000.

When I had this thought, my first notion wasn’t to do a bunch of searches on Google; my first thought was to head to godaddy.com to see if a URL has been taken.  Lo and behold, the Slow Food movement in the states called Slow Food USA did not have a slowwineusa.org or slowwine.org equivalent.  Somebody registered slowwine.com in 2000, but hasn’t done anything with the web address.  So, I registered several addresses with a couple of variations, not knowing why or what value the $50 odd bucks would yield—and I still don’t know that value, by the way.

At the same time, I’m on the mailing list for the Wine Aficionado’s Group for Indianapolis organized through meetup.com (similar, large grassroots wine groups exist across the country on meetup.com) and it has doubled in size in the last seven months and now numbers 150 + people.  My impression is, however, that it’s light on knowledge in its membership base.  Perhaps light to the extent that ‘Drink the Pink’ means that White Zin and Rośe might be one and the same in the eyes of the members.  And, I look at another local Wine Enthusiast group in Indianapolis that seems to be seemingly shut off from new members and very clique-ish.  Likewise, The Taster’s Guild International has chapters all across the country, but is positioned towards the high-end of the wine lover spectrum, and even if that point is argued, it’s hard to argue with the notion that they are not positioned to capture the new breed of wine lovers i.e. people under 30.

As I reflect on the divisive issue of boutique wineries versus national brands, medals, notoriety, production volume, etc and the overall base of consumers that drink wine and I examine that against the food and wine experience and further juxtapose that against on and offline groups of wine enthusiasts, I’m wondering if a Slow Wine USA organization isn’t an idea whose time has come.

It makes perfect sense—create a national social group that focuses on smaller wines with chapters in cities across the country and move the entry-level focus away from swilling and education and the high-end focus away from cult wines, futures and other seemingly impenetrable topics and focus it on something everybody can enjoy and appreciate—food and wine as a match.

By developing a social entry point that engenders the same values as the Slow Food movement (back to the earth instead of haute cuisine), and translates it to wine, and creates a complementary focus on food and wine with the same intrinsic, crafted ethos, wouldn’t we be doing a favor for the industry by bringing wine lovers from all ends of the spectrum while focusing the conversation on wines that have a “small” sensibility and at the same time focusing on food and wine as a combination that enhances overall social intercourse?

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Robertson Wine Valley in South Africa has created the Robertson Slow Wine Festival going on now.  This appears to be only glancingly related to the Slow Food movement, but with similar principles:

From 9th -12th August 2007 time will go by exceptionally slowly in the beautiful Robertson Wine Valley when the inaugural Robertson Slow will take place.  19 wineries from Ashton, Bonnievalue, McGregor and Robertson will welcome visitors into their homes, to their dining tables and onto their farms to spend some time … slowly.

I still don’t know what I’ll do with the URL’s, if you have any ideas, let me know.  But, I do think that the wine industry and wine lovers would be well-served by having a social organization and a common bond engaged around food and wine with a strong undercurrent of philosophy like the Slow Food Movement espouses.  Snobs and wet behind the ear newbies could then co-mingle in relative peace around a shared understanding.

Have a thought?  Leave a comment, please.



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Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (3) |


Comments

On 08/10, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Count me as uneducated.
What is the difference between White Zin and Rośe?
Thanks.

On 08/10, Jeff Lefevere wrote:

Ah, Vic.  I’m with you.  I don’t see much difference myself, but Rose purists would tell that Rose is a fine wine enjoyed by wine lovers that has less sugar and more balancing acid to make for a refreshing summertime wine and an especially nice complement to food. 

White Zin, in these purists eyes, is downstream semi-sweet wine more suited towards people that are less educated wine drinkers and like their wines on the sweeter side.

Thanks for reading!

Jeff

On 08/10, Agent Red wrote:

In my fast-paced world of wine espionage, any slowdown is a welcome one. Sign me up as a charter member -but only if I don’t have to reveal my true identity.


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