Category Archives: the drinking side

The most civilized thing

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”

In winter vines are like this, bare and empty

These words of Hemingway were perfect to describe wine as a final product, with all the meanings that it carries. The idea of “greatest perfection” and “great range of enjoyment” is clear to everyone. The role wine had in the civilization of the world is big, and it is underlined in a book by Tom Standage, which I’m going to read soon [if you are too lazy, you can find a synthesis here].

But the idea of my blog was to stick to a specific territorial context, and it is in this context that, on the way, I discovered that it’s the result of processes that change from person to person, from country to country. As a friend told me today, “behind a simple glass of wine there are stories, visions of the world” and these lives intersect each other in systems, groups tied up by common projects (think of I Dolomitici) or just to harvest, that make possible that “greatest perfection”.

Another wintry sight of Piana Rotaliana

Especially in systems like Trentino region, where most production is led in a cooperative way, everything related to wine has important ripercussions on the society, which strongly depend from it. From here to a higher level is but a short step: cooperation is a reality in many fields, from banks to houses to fruit market…

Now it's small, but after a sunny summer it will become a red, full Teroldego bunch...

As for wine production, the growers who give their grapes to the wine cooperatives are about 8.000, with 8.100 hectars of vineyards, over the 90% of the whole Trentino’s production. This system is very good if you think that winegrowers are not left alone to face the market, but they can count on a strong structure, and during a crisis, like last year, that has meant that even if the cooperative didn’t sell enough, the winegrowers have received a noteworthy remuneration. On the other hand this huge, strict structure doesn’t consider a priority to change the wrong agricultural practices, even if they claim that they respect the environment and so on. While talking to private winegrowers has clearly emerged the need for an overall change, which is impossible as long as the 90% of winegrowers shield theirselves with the wine cooperatives…

Three weeks later the grapes are bigger and bigger

Another thing that aroused my curiosity was the relation between wine, a old, mature product -as an economics professor would say- and creativity. Winemaking  is often a process built with a high level of creativity (think for example of the varieties of vines, the different blend you can make then in the wine cellar and so on). But the way designer (from Eoos to Mendini) and artists (I’ve seen Chia’s example) conceive different ideas of approaching the world of wine is always different and interesting. And it is always amazing finding that something is changing also in this region, thanks to South Tyrol which is always a step ahead of Trentino!

Vineyards in the early summer, ready to hold growing bunches

Advertisements

Quali cose siamo

Last week I went to Triennale Design Museum in Milan, and I visited the Third Interpretation by Alessandro Mendini: “Quali cose siamo”.  It is a collection of objects, apparently piled up in a chaotic way, full of quotes, hints and combinations that stimulate your curiosity… Among these objects there are ones related to the world of wine: I’ve chosen two of them that I really liked.

The first one is a special glass designed by Gumdesign in 2006: Swing glass, a sort of rocking glass. It is a usual wine glass with just a special detail: the basis of the glass is parabolic, that means that when you fill this glass it begins to swing, literally. This movement can be reproduced very easily during the dinner just by touching it softly. This device allows a perfect and continue oxygenation and decantation of the wine. But, as my professor suggested to me, it reproduces also the feeling you have when you have drunk too much! Game and function are well combined in this object.

[If you look in Gumdesing’s website you’ll find another wine object – which doesn’t find place in Triennale Exhibition – :

Calici Emozionali“, three different glasses with a hole at different levels, one for the abstemious person, one for the balanced one and one for the immoderate drinker; here too the element of game is predominant.]

The second object I noticed in Triennale is a wine produced by Sandro Chia. He is a very important artist of the second half of the last century and his works are exhibited in a lot of museums around the world. He landed in the world of wine by chance, when he bought an estate in Tuscany, Castello Romitorio. The wine exhibited in Triennale is called “Costanza“, and it is a blend of  Vermentino and Chardonnay. The peculiar thing of Chia’s wines is the fact that each label is different from the others and they are painted by the artist. That makes his wines loved by collectors.

It’s interesting to think that such a unique object (but not unique product, since, although the label, the wine is the same in every bottle) is exhibited in a Design Museum, where you would expect to find a praise to reproducibility and mass production…

One for all, all for one

It is true that physics is present in our daily life: that’s what Acquacalda design suggests with its “Applied physics” projects. One of them is related to the world of wine…

One for all, all for one is a wine dispenser thought for being put in the middle of the table. It uses the Pascal principle, for which “the pressure exerted on a fluid enclosed in a container is transmitted unchanged at any point of the fluid and at the walls of the container that contains it“. To sum up: every person who sit around the table will receive the same quantity of wine in his glass!

Tastevin

Have you ever seen this strange object similar to a silver cup?!

I remember that I saw two of them for the first time in my grandparents’ house, and I played with my sister pretending that they were cups of tea… But one day my grandmother explained to me the real function of that funny object.

In the past, but in some cases still today, in wine cellars there was quite no light. Winemakers and sommeliers needed something to judge maturity, clarity and color of wine. In fact the little concave parts allowed to make the most of the few light for example of a candle. Winemakers could see which wine they were tasting, and they could appreciate its transparency.

Another important function was the oxygenation of wine, again thanks to the interchange of concave and convex bottoms.

The usefulness of this little object was multiple because it was little and unbreakable, and so it could be used and carried everywhere.

Nowadays there’s no more need for tastevin, because the conditions of wine cellars have changed, but sommeliers use it as a symbol, and wear it around the neck for example in official cerimonies.

Wine Tasting Festival Bozen

Tastings, parties, tours, open wine cellars… this week begins the Wine Tasting Festival in Bozen.

Already in 1896 Bozen there had been a “Spring Wine Market”: over 160 producers and consumers met together in a town  that was one of the most southern wine suppliers of Austria-Hungary. This Spring Market was suspended for many years until it restarted in 1947. It was placed in a lot of buildings of the town, hotels, even a castle, but this year, for the first time, the Wine Tasting Festival will take place in Museion, the most important museum of contemporary art in South Tyrol.

The event will begin with an Inaugural Symposium about “Design & Packaging: a strategic factor of success?“. This issue was central also at Vinitaly, as we had seen here: the traditional world of wine is discovering that labels and bottle shape can convey messages or create a competitive vantage.

During all the month of May the South Tyrol Wine Route has organized Vino in Festa, a range of events spread in the Region all related to wine. All the infos here.

[More details here]

Labels #2

The success of a wine can sometimes be due to the appeal of its label. We’ve seen how a few designers have developed this idea, giving new meanings to a flat piece of paper.

Last April came out a book which compiles a selection of labels. The thesis of this book is that labels are a very specific field, and that with the packaging generally speaking they create a great complexity of messages: labels do contain words, information and number which resume years of efforts. It took over 400 days to write Wine Labels, and the author tried to make a selection of the most used sizes of the bottles for every kind of wine.

The book itself  recalls itself  the size of a bottle and the cover seems made of cork: it can’t be missing in the perfect library of a wine enthusiast!

 

WINE LABELS   –   Index Books   –   ISBN: 9788492643332

Glasses

One of the most important thing in wine tasting is the glass you use: a wrong glass could nullify months of hard work.

Since this sensitivity has grown, several firms have begun to produce specific glasses. One of them is Riedel, an Austrian firm specialized in glasses and decanters, all handmade.

 

            

Riedel studied a glass for every kind of wine, even for Teroldego. You can find them in their Wine and Glass Guide!

As a contrast to this approach Eoos, a Viennese design studio, thought a universal tasting glass for Alessi: Alberto’s Vineyard, a synthesis of a white-wine glas and a red-wine glas. One side of the glas is made in order to keep inside and concentrate the aroma, while the other half  opens outwards, liberates fragrance and lets the wine oxygegnate.

 

Eoos said that the interesting thing in this glass is the possibility to “create wine”, because wine is still developing when you use this glass and you can transform it just by rotating the glass. This is an ironical glass, but there’s the idea, behind it, of a glass which can helps you to learn something by yourself, and not listening to someone “expert”.