Wine Is Food
By Jake Wright
Eric Asimov, for those of you who may not be familiar with his name, writes about wine for the New York Times. I really like his writing and his perspectives, so I was quite pleased to read his recent article “Want to Pick Better Bottles? Repeat After Me: Wine Is Food” (NYT, 3/6/2017). In his clear and compelling way, Asimov describes to a T what we are all about here in our Annex Wine department. It practically reads like an endorsement of our approach.
For us at the Natural Grocery Co., wine is food, it is an agricultural product. We pay close attention to how the grapes were grown, and how they were treated in the cellar. I choose wines that, besides being delicious, are produced at least sustainably and at best regeneratively. My favorite stories from winemakers include how they took an abused parcel of land and brought it back, literally, to life.
There are certainly many people for whom wine is just a drink, and there are a lot of options out there. But for those who want more than just a cup of liquid unwind, there’s more to the story.
With customers, I often use the analogy of bread. Imagine on one end of the spectrum the highly processed, industrial, chemical-laden, food-like artifice such as Wonder Bread. This clearly makes some people happy. On the other end would be a naturally leavened loaf, made with grain from a known source (or even a known field), freshly ground, kneaded by hand, unhurried, and that is a clear reflection of its maker. Bread full of life, and deeply delicious to boot.
It’s the same with wine. I absolutely agree with Asimov that “a simple way to understand wine, to elevate the quality of what you consume and the pleasure you take in it, is to treat wine as if it were another staple of the table, just as you would the produce, meat and bread that you shop for and eat.”
Now, it was true for me, and is true for many (and Asimov also makes this point), that wine is one of the last things we think about as we procure quality ingredients for the table. I know in my life it took me a while to learn to prefer food I could relate to, where I knew the farmer and knew the story of how and where that food was grown, and where and how that food was processed. I wasn’t born a foodie: I’ve earned that title.
So now, I expect that for a significant percentage of the food I eat, and wine I drink, I know its backstory. Like all food we eat, wine is a product of the earth and an expression of our relationship to it, for better or worse. I try to choose better, and ultimately, that adds to my pleasure at table and sense of connectedness to the community and land around me.
Pleasure, connectedness, delicious clean wine and food. Surely these are among the best things in life, and for that, I can be grateful every day.