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07.04.2007

The Price of Independence

American Independence Day: our celebration of nationhood and the presumed political destiny of our "great" nation. Almost every nation in the world has some sort of equivalent to this holiday, a remembrance of the day we all cut some sort of ties that bound us to a future we did not relish. In America's case, of course, we were severing the bonds that held us as vassals to England, decrying the injustice of the Crown and its attendant Church.

Mostly, though, we were sick and tired of paying taxes.

When America cast away its relationship to England 231 years ago, it was a highly improbable act -- one of the wonders of the world -- a philosophical and political revolution architected almost entirely without any good red wine.

Never before had such a revolution taken place in such a sober frame of mind. Many of the founding fathers were notorious teetotalers, but even had they been wine drinking like their French role models, it wouldn't have mattered. By the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, virtually nothing was getting through the British blockade, least of all some good claret.

Jefferson, intelligently, kept mum about his (at that time small) private store of Bordeaux, and snuck back to Monticello whenever he got the chance to have a swig.

America still hasn't recovered from our break with the old world. The renunciation of everything European set America back decades in terms of wine sophistication. Don't believe me? All you have to do is compare our grocery stores. In America's Mid-west, grocery store patrons are lucky to find wines that aren't bag-in-box. In England? Their damn supermarkets are even selling Bordeaux futures..

The 4th of July is a time to dream as much as it is a time to celebrate, and I'm dreaming of a day when more Americans watch fireworks with a Bordeaux-blend in hand than a Budweiser.

Me? I'm drinking French and Italian rosé with my barbecue. This independence thing has gone far enough.

Salud!

Comments (8)

07.04.07 at 3:54 PM

Ah, but how long till you find yourself drinking a refreshing Bacchus, or maybe a Sparkling wine from Pinot Noir, from England?

Happy holidays!

Rob

Jerry D. Murray wrote:
07.05.07 at 4:50 PM

As wine consumers we still have yet to declare independence! Many of you live in states that restrict or prohibit you from buying exactly the wine you want by banning or restricting the shipping of said wine. Instead of England we now live under the tyranny of the three tier distribution system ( ie Distributors ). Like our forefathers it is up to YOU to revolt ( peacefully please ) and establish your right to buy the wine of your choosing from whomever you want. Arm your self with pen and paper ( or a goddamn keyboard if you must ) and write someone in your state legislature demanding they protect YOUR right to buy wine, not some corporations right to sell it to you!

Sorry Alder, you just got me going with all this talk of tyranny and freedom.

Nicholas wrote:
07.15.07 at 11:19 AM

Alder, as a mid-westerner I'm more than a bit distressed by your characterization of wine availability at grocery stores in the american midwest. As someone who was born and lives in Wisconsin, I can tell you that your characterization is flatly untrue in the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Alder wrote:
07.15.07 at 3:51 PM

Nicholas,

You've correctly busted me for perhaps waxing a bit hyperbolic.

Scott wrote:
07.15.07 at 5:30 PM

Ditto that for Ohio - selections run deep.

BooHoo wrote:
07.15.07 at 10:02 PM

Gimme a break. This post is a great example of what's wrong with the US. We produce the best wine in the world, but the author prefers to cling to some romantic notion of the "old world" being far superior. Is our culture and its products so poor that we must constantly apologize for them? The US is the world's best at establishing memorials and making apologies. Let's instead celebrate what's great about this country. Is it perfect? No. Is it the best? Maybe not. But we have lots to be thankful of...and proud of...in the US without having to wallow in the kind of pity this posting describes.

Alder wrote:
07.15.07 at 10:18 PM

Gimme a break. This comment is a great example of how people don't read my postings very carefully, and can't tell when I'm poking fun.

I'm not saying anything about the relative quality of wine produced in one place or the other. I'm merely pointing out (tongue in cheek, I might add) that in general there's an awful lot of good wine around the globe that we don't have very good access to.

As for the "America produces the best wine in the world" argument, you're of course welcome to hold that opinion, and good for you for enjoying US wine, but I completely disagree with you, and so would most serious wine lovers.

08.18.14 at 1:03 PM

Having read this I thought it was rather informative.
I appreciate you finding the time and effort
to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and
posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

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