For this month’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC25 the word is TRAVEL.
I love travel! I love to travel! The sights, the people, the cultures, the odd things others do, the food, the history, the magnificence of seeing familiar hopes, fears, and dreams in the hues of exotic people altogether unlike me. Traveling the world has always been a dream of mine.
The desire to discover fresh places comes from my globetrotting Grandma Rose. Every winter she’d fly through our “port city”, basically wherever our family was currently living, shower us with a bounty of garden produce, visit a day and then be on her way out of the country before the cold Northern California weather “would frost her orchard”. Belize, the Philippines and India were her favorite hangouts. Returning the first week of April, because she had to “get her taxes filed”, Gram Rose would stop long enough to share weird and wild stories accompanied with projector slides (tiny plastic framed negatives for all of you born after 1985) and treasures from faraway lands.
Nowadays, I do most of my traveling closer to home. But someday, Lord willing, my modern steamer trunk will display those coveted passport stamps of foreign lands and my iPhone will hopefully contain a picture or two of an Italian or even Croatian vineyard.
Well, buckle up, buttercups, cause we’re going to do the unconventional – we are going to time travel.
Why time travel? Why not? If you can fly in and out of time zones belted to a metal gas can and begin the day with a champagne brunch in Brussels and end it with a cocktail in Beijing, then why not time travel? I’m sure the current reigning #MWWC winner, Loie of Cheap Wine Curious, might agree there are events in wine history worthy of daydreaming about. Not the phylloxera outbreak of 1855, mind you, and the total decimation of vineyards across Europe but perhaps more exciting moments that changed the course of wine into what we drink today.
I’ve decided to follow the style of the movie “Midnight in Paris” starring the affable Owen Wilson. So hop into a 1920s Peugeot 176 with me, we’ll pour some champagne and take a short trip through wine history by beginning in Paris. Why? Because I love the movie and I love wine. And if you watch closely, each 1920s scene is laced with famous personalities such as the Fitzgeralds, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Salvador Dali and accented by a glass of wine.
(Just to warn you, dear friends: for those of you who yawn at lists, I’m about to make one.)
Let’s time-travel through a little wine history together!
- 1820s – Madame Clicquot of the Champagne house Veuve Cliquot drills holes in her Louis XVI dining table and forever ‘rids’ her champagne bottles of pesky sediments – We sip her sediment-free bubbly and watch as she makes all her employees sign Confidentiality Clauses but unfortunately somebody talks.
- 1920 – In America, we sneak into a meeting of the Mafia Kingpins and watch as they dress as well-meaning citizens, effectively hijack Congress, lobby for the 18th Amendment and Prohibition is born. We get our jazzy wine fix in the most popular Speakeasy in New York, The Cotton Club. Located in Harlem, it’s hipper than Pa Luke’s backwoods moonshine shack. (Seriously, my Arkansas Great-Grandpa was a moonshiner and way cooler than those wannabes on TV.)
- Jetting back to France, 1976: We take a front row seat as upstart Cali-boys, Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars top French producers in the blind tasting of Paris and high-five each other as New World wine REPRESENTS!
- 1001: We sail with the Viking Leif Eriksson who names North America ‘Vineland’ for the endless species of native grapes he found. Unfortunately, Amerigo Vespucci renames it ‘America’ 500 years later and it sticks. This may not have changed the course of wine history but seriously, I would have been fine with the United States of Vineland.
- 1224 – Cyprus. We score tickets and t-shirts to “The Battle of the Wines”. It’s the first recorded wine tasting competition staged by the French king Philip Augustus. Over 70 samples from France and across Europe, including Cyprus, Spain and the Mosel region, were tasted and judged by an English priest. The priest classified the wines he tasted as either Celebrated for those which pleased him or Excommunicated for those that did not meet his standards. Who the heck was this guy? Did he have a Master of Wine certificate?? (wikipedia.org)
On a personal note, I will now be adopting the priestly rating of Celebrated or Excommunicated for all future wine tastings and reviews. Clear and simple. BOOM! _______ wine, You’ve been Excommunicated!
To end our time traveling wine tour, we wind up in ________. Use your imagination. You know why? Because, thanks to the exploding global economy and transport, modern wine technology, invention of stainless steel temperature controlled vats, and a plethora of amazing modern wine science practices, you can get your passport stamped in 100 different burgeoning wine regions without ever leaving your backyard. Countries with century-old wine cultures are making a splash in as far off lands as Oklahoma. Yes, OKLAHOMA. And it’s only the beginning to all the wine travel. What an amazing time period we live in. Just as Owen Wilson’s character, Gil Pender, discovers from all his nostalgic, sentimental wanderings: the Present can be all together just as exciting.
Now get out there and collect a few wine stamps in your passport!
This is my entry for the #MWWC25, hosted and moderated superbly by Jeff @thedrunkencyclist, founder. If you like it, vote for me with a Celebrated and if you don’t, then just keep the Excommuncated rating to yourself. Thanks.