I am locked up, like many of you, within the walls of home. In Italy we have been like this for over 3 weeks. I am sitting in the cellar with my laptop placed on a crate of wine and I look at the piles of bottles accumulated in many years of travel and tasting. Very little desire to imbibe. As I tidy up, now more than ever I understand how wine is pure sharing. Wine is the social food, that snare that brings people together, perhaps even cutting down this 3-foot distance that we will carry with us for who knows how long. In this dramatic moment we can learn a lot from wine and its values. Conviviality and sharing, of course, and that empathy charge capable of bringing out an emotion that we often hide in the midst of a hectic life punctuated by frenetic mobility that knows no pauses.
But wine is above all respect and indulging the rhythms of Nature, that very Nature which is now sending us messages in bold writing. Reminding us, in a not entirely subtle way, that we are guests on this fragile planet, fragile like us. As David Quammen says, extraordinarily predicting what is happening today in his 2012 book Spillover, “we should realize that pandemics are not accidents that happen out of the blue, but consequences of our actions”. The American scientist and journalist puts at the basis of the evolution of pandemics man’s profound alteration of ecosystems, the destruction of the last rainforests, human overcrowding, the exasperated use of fossil fuels, intensive farming and nutrition industrial whose results we cannot predict. Look at the flip side of the coin. The deserted cities are once again populated by animals, geese wallow in Rome’s “Fontanone”, rabbits are back in Milan, the waters of the canals of Venice have become transparent. Likewise in other cities of the world. Sure, they sound like completely exceptional events.
So I think of wine and the absolute respect of winemakers for their vineyards treated as home gardens, that sense of manic attachment to the single parcel, to the vineyards handed down from generation to generation. Of course, wine is the one sector that has made leaps and bounds in sustainability, in the coming years it will no longer be an additional condition included in company brochures, it will have to be the very essence of the mission statement. Wine can and must be an extraordinary opportunity to relaunch, a model of balance between human and environmental dimension, a narration of taste that speaks of respect. Wine is waiting and it is the essence of patience. The time of wine is what we are experiencing now, it is our lesson. And during these days locked up at home, don’t get carried away. Wait to uncork the big bottles with your loved ones. At the end of this epidemic, there will be so much to toast to.
By Lorenzo Ruggeri