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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!

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud