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Wine Magic: A Toast

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Let’s celebrate the magic of wine in 2024.

By Jim Trezise

 

Last night while I was sleeping, my heart beat 38,400 times. I didn’t ask it to keep beating through my slumber, nor did I thank it when I awoke. I just took my heartbeat, and my life, for granted. Shame on me.

We do the same with wine. Sure, we enjoy the aroma, bouquet and taste. But we rarely reflect that this magical elixir is a natural farm product…a land preserver…a reflection of place and time…an artistic statement…a liquid food…a Biblical focus…a poetic inspiration…a cultural phenomenon…an economic engine…a noble beverage with humble roots which brings people together around the world.

Wine is magic. So why don’t we tell people?

Natural magic

It’s easy to fret about the future of wine. Boomers are aging, younger generations are opting out, spirits are innovating and there are increasing warnings about the dangers of alcohol.

It’s deja vu all over again. We’ve been here before, and we’ll be here again in this cyclical, boom-and-bust-and-boom industry. But we don’t have to just stand by and sulk. We can broadcast the magic of wine.

       “We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven on our vineyard; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”  —Benjamin Franklin

Vines grow down and up. Down into the soil to absorb water, up to gather sunlight, so the grapes in between can grow and ripen and, with their mix of juice, sugar and yeast, turn into wine. Magic!

     “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”  —Galileo

Vineyards preserve the earth, enhance the landscape, and attract millions of tourists to rural regions. The 269 American Viticultural Areas in 34 states, and the vintages printed on labels, remind us that every wine is a reflection of place and time.

The wine community’s focus on sustainability confirms its commitment to protecting and enhancing our planet. The creation of cold hardy “Minnesota” varieties has actually increased the Earth’s capability to host vineyards and produce wine in regions once deemed inhospitable. Magic!

Human magic

        “Grapes are the most noble and challenging of fruits.”  —Malcolm Dunn, head gardener to the 7th Viscount Powerscourt (circa 1867) 

There are nearly one million acres of grapes planted for wine, juice and fresh fruit. Grapes are the highest value fruit crop in the United States, and represent 36% of the value of noncitrus fruit crops.

Vineyards are also vital to human well-being, supporting thousands of American jobs in agriculture: 55,902 in independent vineyards, 44,079 in suppliers of agricultural products and 9,194 in local communities — 109,175 total in 2022.

Wine country tourism also fuels the agricultural economy, with more than 49 million tourists and $16 billion in tourist expenditures in 2022, supporting 155,035 jobs and filling local tax coffers in all 50 states. Magic!

Wine’s economic impact on the American economy in 2022 totaled $276,073,312,709 — $276 billion! That included 10,637 wine producers, 1.84 million jobs, $95 billion in annual wages, 49 million tourist visits, $16 billion in tourist expenditures, $22 billion in total taxes, $14 billion in federal taxes, and $8 billion in state and local taxes.

That humble fermented grape juice is liquid gold.

Shared magic

      “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry.” —Ecclesiastes 10:19

Wine is mentioned in the Bible 247 times. Of those, 40 are negative, mostly warning against abuse; 145 are positive, often in the context of meals, blessings and worship; and 62 are neutral, mostly describing situations. With a few notable exceptions, such as John the Baptist, Daniel and members of a few sects, wine was also widely consumed at daily meals and communal feasts, and it’s offered at sacrifices and blessings. 

      “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Wine is also an integral part of daily living for many people — an ingredient in cooking, an aperitif, a meal accompaniment and a family bond. Restaurants are rated not just on their cuisine, but on their wine lists. Entire books are written on which wines go with which foods, but the rules are made to be broken because it all comes down to what wines people like best.

     Wine, to me, is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.”  —Robert Mondavi

In the major wine-producing regions of the world, that magical beverage not only graces the landscape with vineyards, but also the table in concert with other locally grown ingredients. It is as natural a part of meals as the bread and olive oil, a social lubricant facilitating friendship and the spark of family warmth.

Universal magic

       “Water divides the people of the world.  Wine unites them.”  –Anonymous

Perhaps most important, wine brings people together. Wine is used to launch ships, toast peace treaties, celebrate births, graduations, weddings, holidays or just the joy of being together with family and friends. 

If music is the universal language, wine is the global toast. So let us take a moment  away from this troubled world to wish each other a more peaceful and joyful future in whatever language is appropriate:

Cheers (English)

L’chaim (Hebrew)

Slainte (Irish Gaelic, pronounced SLAHN-juh)

Serefe (Turkish, cheh-reh-FEH)

Kanpai (Japan, Kan-pie)

Salud (Spain, Sah-LUD)

Prost (Germany, Prohst)

Sante (France, Sahn-tay)

Saude (Portugal, Saw-OO-de)

Geonbae (Korea, Guun-bae)

Skal (Sweden, Skawl)

Gesondheid (Afrikaans, Ge-sund-hate)

Ganbei (China, Gan-bay)

Yamas (Greek, Ya-Mas)

                                             “Wine is Life.”  —Petronius

Let’s celebrate the magic of wine in 2024.

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Jim trezise

Jim Trezise

Jim Trezise is president of WineAmerica (WA), the only national wine industry association in the United States. WA is a 500-member strong organization that encourages the growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy. Membership is encouraged to support the important work of WA, which benefits all U.S. wineries. Go to https://wineamerica.org/ for more information.

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