Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator Fame… He Missed One Thing in His August 31, 2008 Commentary

I’ve long respected wine writer Matt Kramer, who once a month in Wine Spectator delivers insightful witticism on all things “wine.” In the August 31st issue, Matt wrote about “What it Really Takes… Does China – or any other fine-wine-aspiring nation — have the requisite wine Culture?”

As is usual, his commentary is brilliant. In it, Matt listed the three ingredients he believes are needed to create a fine-wine culture:

1) Money
2) Political stability
3) Socially endorsed pursuit

You’ve really got to read all of his commentary, because you’re missing so much thoughtfulness by my only giving you these bullet points; additionally, what I’ve alluded to doesn’t even scratch the surface. Matt’s missed one other ingredient, however, that would ordinarily constitute a letter to the editor. I know, though, I’ve passed their production date, so it’s a perfect blog entry.

Let me digress just for a bit.

I was raised in a manufacturing town during the 1950s after World War II, and at a time of great return to prosperity for the US. Then, the 60s hit… and all idealists (including me) began the ecology movement.

  • “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” (Where did the Owl go, anyway, and isn’t it time to bring him back?)
  • “You can just stop spewing all those toxic fumes into the air, Mr. Manufacturer. Put a muzzle on it!”

Did they? Yes and No. It stopped in Lewiston, Maine, but they sent their executives to China to start factories there, where environmental standards didn’t exist (and still don’t)…

And, guess what? Neither did child labor laws or sweat shop conditions. There were no labor unions, so a “Hey-Day” was invented for the owners of all companies that outsourced to third-world countries, rather than cleaning up our own manufacturing standards. (Don’t forget, the world only has one atmosphere, and our globe is constantly spinning.)

Fast forward to the China Olympics 2008… Didn’t we read and hear that China has announced unprecedented measures to cut air pollution during this year’s Olympic Games… for the sake of the athletes (and their image)?

So, I would add to Matt’s three ingredients.

  1. Money
  2. Political stability
  3. Socially endorsed pursuit
  4. Environmentally sound standards

Our national economic world has been turned upside down from our out-sourcing to third-world countries. Yes, prices have remained somewhat under control (while US manufactures have become majorly affluent by not passing on their tremendous savings), but Americans are being forced to reinvent themselves after three or four generations of their families having held the same skills for the same employer…

So, when I look at objects and where they’re now manufactured, if it’s wine made in China… I’ve got to pass, because I’m very suspect.

When it’s made in America, it’s paid in America.

When it’s made in China, it’s not going to environmentally impress me… Even if they develop Matt’s three criteria above. I’m going to have to also be assured that China’s environment has experienced a complete metamorphosis.

Another saying we held to our hearts in the 1960s, that still exists today, “You are what you eat.”

Since wine is a liquid food and my body is my temple, only what’s pure need enter these hallowed halls. I consider all things that enter this temple, and the pollution of China doesn’t stand a chance, yet.

2 Responses to “Matt Kramer of Wine Spectator Fame… He Missed One Thing in His August 31, 2008 Commentary”

  1. Morton Leslie says:

    I don’t mind losing an argument, so I don’t mind disagreeing with Matt or you, Jo. I would argue that, to the contrary, all you need to do is find a reasonably good growing area, plant Cabernet, and put a high price on the bottle. Name it “Domaine” something or “Chateau” something, maybe hire an international consultant. He or she need not visit, but do send out press releases about this arrangement. This is such proven formula to success, I am surprised that Matt overlooked it.

    A successful industry in a politically stable environment is one that meets “international” standards of sameness… which will be brought to you successfully by the consultant. Money will find its way to any high priced wine just for the fact it is high priced. And talking ecology is more important than practicing it. Like defining a “blue sky day” as any day you can see a shadow and then bragging about them on your back label.

    That said, I worry all those frozen packages of Chinese frozen seafood I used to buy at TJ’s and feed to my family.

  2. admin says:

    I just rejected the thought of buying beef at Trader Joe’s last weekend, because it came from Australia… I don’t mind their right to grow and sell beef, but how much am I going to have to pay for flying it over to TJ’s? [Besides, do they make seat belts big enough for that cattle?]

    I’m still becoming more nationalistic than ever, too, because I remember my town morphing into the land of the walking dead… It seemed to start in Maine (as Maine goes, so goes the nation), so by the time it hit Detroit, I had already witnessed what devastation and change Detroit – and all other manufacturing communities were going to be experiencing…

    It’s a wild world…

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