In the United States and Europe, the Industrial Revolution changed the way food was produced and distributed. Agriculture became much more centralized and, at the same time, much more diverse in consumer choice. Fewer farmers and workers fed more people, a trend which has continued to this day. Inevitability, centralization led to profiteering and corruption.
The Institute National de l’Origine et de Qualite in France came into being just after a food revolution in the United States caused by the publication of Upton Sinclair’s fictionalized account of the Chicago meat packing industry, The Jungle. That book led to the enactment in the United States of the Pure Food and Drug Act.
The Institute wrote regulations which were to standardize the wine industry in France and lead to the promotion of “terroir” as a central tenet of wine quality. French wine producers believed that the wine produced in France, due to its origin in the soils and climate of their country, was superior to any other wine . They evangelized about “controlled origin” as if the Almighty himself had ordained their products. The idea of place and locale subsequently became boiler plate language in food and wine writing and tasting.
In more recent times, all that dovetails nicely with the locavore movement and has gone, for the most part, unchallenged. However, in 2015, Mark Matthews, a Professor of Viticulture at the University of California, Davis, published a book that aimed to debunk the concept and cite scientific evidence that it was simply not real.
So what is the truth? Well, it is of course complicated and can’t be summarized in a sentence or two. After reading the book, I decided to investigate whether and if and how wine taste is influenced by where it is grown. I invite you to join me for a class exploring what I found.
We will discuss some wine chemistry, wine history, climate influence, wine guru influence, government action and grape biology. We will sample some Cabernet Sauvignon wines from around the world and pair those with some French food, just to put us in the mood. Further, we will look into the present day viewpoint that each person’s perception is a little different and that there is no single truth about any wine.
I promise you an interesting evening (on March 7th) of fellowship, information, tasting, instruction and discussion.
Please join me by registering at the café or over the phone (218-723-8569). If you have any trouble with the restaurant’s (ancient) telephone system, email me: (carla dot blumberg (at) astccc dot net).
Hope to see you,