A regular dose of marketing bollocks on French wine bottles these days is that such and such a plonk is l’expression du terroir’, but it was a tad disturbing last night to see an Italian primitivo recommended to me on a restaurant wine list as ‘the perfect expression of terror’. Il Brigadio Rosso, perhaps. Actually, it was quite good.
In fact, I can make a strong case for looking at the eurozone’s problems in the context of its member States’ wine output. Or put another way, any criterion would be better than the ones we’re employing now.
Take Greece. The Germans would like to take Greece and put it somewhere in the Congolese swamplands. This is because Berlin finds it hard to deal with anything and anyone unwilling to become German; and also, Greece isn’t responding to Troikanaut financial austerity pills. But a proper survey of Hellenic wine output could’ve predicted the tragic spread in EU bonds-appeal.
Did you ever try Retsina? I’ve never been a huge fan of pine-flavoured paraffin, but it’s amazing how – after only three bottles of the stuff – it seems like a clever idea to try a fourth. There is a very clear allegory here for any student of the entirely dysfunctional relationship between Athens and its international lenders since 2009.
Spain, on the other hand, makes several very palateable wines capable of competing on the international scene with rubbish French clarets sold at top dollar in M&S, and sickly German reds available from Lidl.
It is therefore too big to mess with: hence the completely different bailout deal made available to Spain by the bullies of Berlin-am-Brussels (vis a vis the one on offer to Greek Retsina-runners).
What this tells us about Ireland’s chances is hard to judge, but given Portugal churns out enough Mateus Rose to disguise the complete and pernicious incompetence of the European Commission, I’d venture to suggest that they’ll be OK.
Italy’s unique advantage here is that it has not only Gattinara, Prosecco, Frascati and Chianti as bargaining chips, it makes exciting cars and addictive pasta to ensure it will remain a serious global contender for many decades to come. What’s more, it has Goldman Sachs and the Cosa Nostra on its side.
My predictions about ezone survivors are based on myriad other considerations of course, but I do find the preceding factors telling. And what they’re telling me is that all of these ClubMed players should tell Angela Merkel where to stick her Fiskal Union, and use the consequent currency devaluations to put the French and Germans out of business when it comes to wine.
I have a gut sense that just the threat of this will be enough to bring Berlin out of its catatonic indecisiveness: they, the Scandas, and the Dutch will declare wine an illegal product of the Devil. Together, they will found FEBRUARY – the Fiscal European Beer-Related Union of Accountant-Regulated Yawns. The rest of us will then, with luck, get our lives back.