The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #14: Tradition

This is a series of challenges where wine bloggers write a post around a given theme and somehow relate it to wine.  Voting is done and the winner gets to choose the next month’s theme.   In addition to the individual sites, the posts can be viewed here –  It’s open to everyone, so if you’re inspired get some pen and paper!   Or fingers and a keyboard.   Whatevs.



I’ve participated a few times before, most notably my post about Sarah McLachlan that had a video of a monkey picking his butt.   My last entry was on The Politics of Wine, which discussed some of the ridiculous laws around alcohol that are still on the books.

The winner of last month’s challenge, Bill from Duff’s Wines, chose “Tradition.”


First off, it’s Friday.    So you know that there’s a tradition here on this site where Fridays feature a music post.   In keeping with that Tradition, I give you….


I have a love-hate relationship with Tradition (the concept, not the song).

On one hand, as the song explains, we need tradition to keep our balance.   It’s tradition that keeps things in order, with everyone knowing their part in their families, the village, and in the world.  It gives people purpose and a connection to other people, whether in the past or in the present.  Powerful stuff.

On the other hand… We’re not in 1905 Imperial Russia.

Tradition isn’t always a good thing. In the song, only men in Anatevka worked , women kept the home, boys went to school, and girls learned to sew.   You know what else was a tradition? SLAVERY.

The world is constantly changing and being able to adapt and thrive to new opportunities requires breaking with tradition.   If the Wright Brothers didn’t break with tradition, we’d still be riding horses to go do our business in wooden outhouses. Or something like that.

As the history of the world is a constant mix of keeping up with old traditions and often breaking free of them, so is the world of wine. There are a lot of traditions that are essential and a lot that should be kicked to curb.


Wine Traditions That We Still Need:

1. Keeping it classy.   Ever since the ancient Greeks, wine has always been a symbol of class and elegance.   At dinners with world leaders, you don’t see cans of Pabst, you see wine. We need this tradition to stay. If hillbillies start drinking First Growth Bordeaux, I’m pretty sure we’d soon see a plague of frogs and the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series.

2. Celebrations.   A toast for the New Year needs to be done with sparkling wine, preferably Champagne.  You need that popping of the cork and the bubbles.   Twisting off the cap of a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew just won’t cut it.   And speaking of caps…

3. Corks.   I know screw caps are cheaper, easier to open, and greatly reduce the risks of spoilage. But there’s something romantic about the process of cutting away the foil, inserting the cork screw, and the little pop that happens when the cork comes out.   The other good thing about cork is that, after it’s harvested, it regrows on the same trees.  Those trees can keep producing corks for over a hundred years without pesticides, irrigation, and the chemicals used in manufacturing other closures.    Not to mention all those trees provide a great place for cute little critters.

4.  Stewardship of the land. Wine production in general is good for the earth.  In order to make good wine, you need good grapes.  And in order to grow good grapes, you have to be connected to and care for the earth.   It’s different then growing corn, where you can get some kind of engineered seed from Monsanto to get a huge yield that’s pest-resistant.   The very best wines are from ancient vines with low yields.

5. Pairings.   Peanut butter and jelly.   Oreos and milk.   Coffee and donuts.   All of those things are great individually, and go really well together.   But wine pairings are more like Siegfried and Roy –  there’s no way you can imagine one without the other.   Wine pairings often go above and beyond to something that is borderline miraculous.  Steak and Cabernet.  Oysters and Montrachet.   Don’t you dare break with tradition and pair foie gras with Rioja instead of Sauternes.


Wine Traditions That Can Go Away Any Time Now:

1. Snobbery and General Douchiness.  Wine is classy, but it’s nothing more than a drink.   Wine has a certain mystique, an air of exclusivity, but it wasn’t wine that created (and perpetuated) this tradition.   It was people that did that – elitist, upper class people who think that wine is too good for everyday people.

One way they do that is…

2. Pretentious Wine Reviews.   Seriously, who says stuff like “the bouquet was playful, yet restrained. Noble, yet gregarious?”   And who exactly still uses words like “unctuous”?   Stop it!

3. Marketing.  What would you pay for a wine that’s extremely rare and requires a lot of manual labor to produce?  We’re talking about a brand that is synonymous with the genre, like how Kleenex defines tissues.  This brand even invented the genre in the first place.   Is $150 too much to ask?

But what if I told you that it only costs $3-4 to actually produce?  And that it’s made in such mass quantities that you can easily find it at liquor stores down the street and in NAIROBI?   And the winemaker didn’t really invent it?     Suddenly, that bottle of Dom Perignon isn’t as attractive.

The only reason why it’s so expensive is pure marketing.

4. Silly overindulgence.   This isn’t so much of a tradition, but a trend that I’d love to see stomped out before it becomes ingrained in society. Take a look at your Facebook feed, and I’m sure you’re going to see stuff like this –

wine meme 1 wine meme 2 wine meme 3


(Thanks Armchair Sommelier for doing the gathering for me. For more, check out her awesome post.)

Abusing wine doesn’t make you funny and more attractive.   It’s not going to solve your problems.   It certainly doesn’t make you a better mother.   Don’t waste a bottle of perfectly good wine like that.

On the other hand…

5.  Stop saving that bottle.   I’m as guilty as anyone with this tradition.   Here’s a bottle I’ve been sitting on for a while –



I’ve often fantasized about opening for that very special occasion.  I have no idea what that occasion is, but I know it’s going to be special.   Having another baby? No, my urologist took care of that.    Kids graduating high school?  Nope, that’s not a big deal these days.    Kid getting married? What if they don’t?    Retirement?

I can spend my whole life waiting for something that I deem worthy of this bottle only to find that it’s past its prime.   Worse yet, that special occasion may never come.   It’s time for a new tradition – recognizing that a dinner at home with the best of friends is something worth celebrating.


What wine traditions do you want to see go away?   Can you imagine Siegfried without Roy?



There’s still time to join this month!  Check out the rules – here.


About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

10 comments on “Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #14: Tradition

  1. talkavino
    January 23, 2015

    You did it! Very nice work! I’m with you on all the traditions which you want to keep 🙂

  2. Stefano
    January 23, 2015

    Great, entertaining post!
    Good luck with your entry!

  3. the drunken cyclist
    January 26, 2015

    Reblogged this on mwwcblog.

  4. Pingback: Three Stupid Traditions | the drunken cyclist

  5. the winegetter
    January 26, 2015

    Awesome post, John!!! And agreed on most of the points. Especially the marketing stuff is killing me. And while I am with you on the romance of corks, I can totally live with the screw caps, being the German I am (where some winemakers only put corks into their wines that go to Asia and the US).

  6. Pingback: #MWWC14 – Screw Tradition | Duff's Wines

  7. Pingback: #MWWC14 Time to vote! | the drunken cyclist

  8. Stella Pan
    August 3, 2015

    Wonderful post! I love the wine traditions part. And the author also provides a lot his own idea about those traditions. It very interesting! I agree your point! This is really a good post! Thank you for sharing with us!

    Stella Pan
    The Wine Elite

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This entry was posted on January 23, 2015 by in Drinking, Music and tagged , , , , , , .
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