JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

"For love of everything that is wine"

SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 2007

~A brief essay on the relationship between youth and wine~

Click here for a link to previous wine articles

     My compliments to the group for whom I intend to occupy the content of my most recent essay. It is not so often that you who are so dependent, idealistic, lustful, selfish/selfless, centre-of-the-Earth, and anxious-to-personalize are addressed with such grammatical eloquence. More importantly, it is an even greater rarity for you to be spoken in the context of such serious a subject matter as that which occupies my thoughts right now: wine.

     Wasting no time, I shall now begin my analysis.

     As is well known, most ‘products’ – I award ‘products’ with quotation brackets because to me the word reeks of the plebeian ranks, something I tend to associate with excessive normalcy – are geared towards young people. To be certain, with very few exceptions (with most of these related to geriatrics), everything that is tangible in modern times is geared toward the young. Now, rather than proceed to list all the wares that are directed towards youth, I shall bypass this amateurish practice (one which is usually performed by the more low-brow and lesser-talented of writers) and immediately focus on the specific item connected with my purpose. In modern terms, wine and youth, particularly in North America, has always been an ambiguous mix; in other words, there have never been any noticeable consistencies with regard to this cohabitation of entities.

     Without doubt, this stands in direct contrast to such a similar topic as ‘booze’ and youth (‘booze’ standing for beer, coolers, cocktails, and spirits). Unlike the former, wherever these two are concerned, booze and youth is almost always seen in terms of ill-moderation and (associatively) sex, violence, and drunk driving. And anyone who dares to deny this simple fact is an idiot; well, perhaps not an idiot, but somewhat ignorant, to say the least. With wine and youth, on the other hand, very few persons seem willing to venture a definitive opinionative statement on the one in tandem with the other. By this, what I am attempting to suggest is that wine and youth appears to be exempt from the same level of scrutiny as other alcoholic substances.

     Now, not to delve into a tirade, but I have often wondered why, at least until very recently, winemakers and merchants have been so slow to realize that wine and youth could potentially be viewed the same way as wine and booze. After all, all we have to do, as youth, is to work at it harder! However, this would arguably be a very difficult task to accomplish. The reason? Unlike booze, for one thing, very few young people seem to drink wine to get drunk. The reasons for this, at least from what I can make of them, are as follows: (1) wine (especially good wine) is too expensive an item by which to get tanked, both in the home and at a bar; (2) wine bars, such as those in Toronto, are designed almost exclusively for upper-class persons, thus excluding a substantially large percentage of young people, who really cannot afford to spend a hundred bucks on one lousy bottle of wine and some miniscule food accompaniments; and (3) wine is not sexy enough --- with several notable exceptions, most advertisements for wine usually feature less-than-attractive winemakers and owners, obnoxious middle-class boneheads, and uncool scenic vistas, the very latter of which is only good for a backpacking tour. To put it bluntly, young people want no-nonsense sex in (and out of) their alcohol; thus, the ‘wine industry’ has a long way to go if it wishes to gain more a more youthful clientele.

     This having been said, I now wish to turn my attention to an even more poignant example of wine-and-youth ambiguity. Actually, if truth be told, this ambiguity does not appear to be confined solely to youth but to all ages as well; but to youth, it seems, this ambiguity appears further accentuated. Here, I am referring to a notion many people seem to hold, in that wine is a sort-of a mysterious, ‘knowledgeable’ drink, and one that thus must be approached in a manner that is indefinably different from all other beverages. There is an old saying in wine (one which I just made up), that “wine never comes in twos,” in that every single bottle of wine we drink will be unique and can never be repeated. Each bottle requires, then, its own set of facts, figures, and vagaries that must held, both in thought and vocalized word, by the drinker.

     Does this not sound complicated? Indeed, it should, but in its complicatedness we actually arrive at perfect clarity. From what I have observed of youth, I can safely vouch that most young people (to a far greater extend than older people) are deathly afraid of things that seem too complex, especially when it comes to the items they drink; in fact, they tend to avoid them like their uglier peers. As such, wine is rarely their choice of beverage for consumption. Even at the most ‘entry range’ level, the enjoyment of wine simply demands too much knowing-of-stuff. “How pathetic!” their southern European counterparts might say, but such is indisputably the North American way with most things. With the exception of citizens of Italian and Portuguese extraction (keeping in mind that the aforesaid groups are but meant as examples), most young people in the northern New World have little idea about wine on a knowledgeable level.

     Does this mean, then, that the majority of our youth (of which I am still considered a participant) will never come to drink and enjoy wine to the same, marketable effect as persons of greater age? In perfect honesty, I do not see my self as the individual most suited to answer such a question, even if I am the one who posed it. All too often, it seems to me that most authors are overly anxious to answer their own challenging quandaries, but not me; I am far too bombastically stupid. And yet, to retrace my steps, I do believe it to be an unfair assumption to suggest that youths do not have – or are incapable of having – a proper appreciation toward wine. My journeys throughout the European continent would seem to indicate this. However, in the ‘colonies’ of North America, where genuine Old World sophistication is often wanting, young people generally look upon wine in unfixed terms. Thus concludes my eloquence at the expense of young people. Lame! A select few will drink it readily and daily; some will order a glass at a bar; others will partake of a bottle among friends now and again; but most will not drink wine unless they are in the company of their family and/or elders. And the last thing any young person wants to think of when in the company of their older counterparts is sex and complicatedness.
     Thus concludes my eloquence at the expense of young people. Lame!



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