An Alternative View of The Real Wine Fair

Photo © Sam Harris, 2019.

London, May thirteen, and in the eight hours I was inside, I could have flown the 5,585 kilometres it takes to get to New York, like my parents. I know because I spoke to them at Heathrow on the way and received a text to say they’d landed, while I was on the bus back. Instead I’d had the tripe, swish and swished, briefly considered the energy (just imagine!) we could harness by the constant motion generated by our wrists, slurped, scribbled, mostly spat, got a bit merry and eight hours: gone. Then I got their text, and thought about this on the ride home.

(Actually, I attended both days of the fair, but I don’t want to think about my carbon footprint for a trip as long).

What is it about the Real Wine Fair? What is that binds all of us who were there together? Makes us so not very different from one another? The professionals and wannabes; the ‘have- -nowhere-else-to-bes’. Those on a date, or in the trade, or on a day out with their mates. The wine-lovers and pretenders; those who prefer qvevri-fermented beverages. The Guardian readers, wine buyers, time wasters, restaurateurs, suppliers. The Brexiteers, the importers. The corner shop owners. The used-to-buy-middle-shelf-wines-at-Tesco’s. Blue suit, grey suit, yesterday’s shirt; the ‘future’s in English wine’ flag-bearers. The foodies, lefties, winos, Tories; those who find sulphured wines taste dead, or, at best, are boring. Those who talk about skin contact in terms of hours, anyone who’s ever been to Georgia, and those of us who just love their sours. The cookbook writers, chefs and the over-adulated sommeliers. Your regular bar staff and their counterpart waiters. The tannin-haters and the 10/12 mg debaters. The terroir-ists and coffee fascists. The on-the-fence but mentally dedicated Extinction Rebellion-ists. The red-blooded amber revolutionists. The long-term Les Caves supporters and Noble Rot on Saturday readers. Ex-Chardonnay drinkers. Those with hangovers. (And can we raise a glass for all the winemakers?) The Istrian Sea safari rangers, high-altitude Utah grape planters and Jura fossil hunters. Those who taste mouse everywhere. Those who (apparently, they exist) taste it, but don’t care?! The KeyKeg convertees and those who will go to great lengths to let you know they drink natural wine exclusively. Those who had some time off on a Sunday; who’ll take any excuse to drink on a Monday. Came for the food, came for the booze, came to schmooze, didn’t know there was so much standing involved and are still regretting their inappropriate choice of shoes. Those with kids who tell them off for drinking crap, who like to drink wines from countries far-flung or at the very least off the beaten path. Us subscribers who laugh at Doug’s newsletters. The people who see themselves actually more as beer drinkers. Young, old, young with grey, bald. The seminar teachers, the self-styled Instagram prophets and deep-Internet blog post preachers. So you see, quite the cast. But what is it that brought us there? Why do we all care?

Have a think.

A guest blog by Hannah Fuellenkemper

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