December 2019: The Best of the beverage industry.
As we do every month, we have rounded up a selection of the best of the news from the world of drinks: An espresso for Unesco, One of the world's most expensive wines, What is Amazon wine worth, Beer to infinity and beyond, French wine's loss influence over the last decade, A drip-feed of anger ...
An Espresso for UNESCO
It’s not the first time Italy has been honoured by UNESCO, the body in charge of preserving humanity’s world heritage in all its forms. The idea of making Italian espresso part of its intangible cultural heritage is far from as hare-brained as it might at first sound. Every year, the UNESCO body receives dozens of applications for this title, such as Spanish flamenco, Algerian Raï, French gastronomy, Finnish sauna culture, the art of Persian miniature, or the musical art of horn-blowers, camel racing, Swiss watchmaking expertise, etc.
Espresso coffee is indeed a piece of Italian cultural heritage, and one that is shared almost everywhere on this planet, as well as a very important factor in social bonding, especially in Italy. One to watch over a lovely cup of ... tea!
One of the World’s Most Expensive Wines
To speak of a bottle, when the contents, per litre, reach around 200,000 euros would simply be terribly bad form. At such a price, it could only be a rare nectar, produced in a heavenly vineyard, which should be placed in a sacred “ampoule.” The lucky beneficiaries could then contemplate the relic, lodged in its noble frame of wood (also rare) ... or sip it religiously, as an Act of Grace to viticultural genius. Such a price entitles the buyer to the attendance of a highly qualified sommelier while the service is performed. To him shall it fall to “open the ampoule” and to decant the divine libation into a sort of Grail ... which means he will be present during the tasting. It would be a pity to be so stingy as not to offer him “a glass” of the excellent beverage.
The Wine of Longer Life
There will always be differences of opinion ... especially in the debate that is currently rocking the French political classes. The initial results of a recent piece of research point towards wine being conducive to living to a grand old age. We are speaking here of “moderate” consumption. This is not the manifesto of a 12-litre lush. The study even says that people who drink to “excess” only very rarely reach the venerable age of 90, the yardstick of the American researchers who conducted this analysis, most of the honourable participants of which admitted to a “weakness” for wine—that weakness being a maximum of two glasses a day.
What is Amazon Wine Worth?
The renown (and business zeal) of the digital giant is beyond any doubt. Buying from Amazon has undoubtedly killed off local small businesses, but the international benchmark for internet shopping has breathed new life into dozens of others by offering them web space together with an impressively efficient delivery and after-sales service. Of course, everything and “anything” can be bought online ... Nonetheless, expert buyers know how to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of the vast ocean of customer reviews. Amazon has its “AmazonBasics” brand, which includes a vast range of products, such as household appliances, high-tech, clothing, sporting goods, office equipment, pet supplies and ... wines! There you can find, sold by the half-dozen, Merlots, Chardonnays, Grenaches, for less than £6 a bottle. However, what is Amazon wine really worth? ... The linked article seems to answer that question. Amazon purists are invited to refer to the customer reviews ...
Beer to Infinity ... and Beyond!
The heroic vision of our astronauts, grave and flawless, drinking their own recycled urine or sometimes powdered grape juice, seems a little quaint these days ... since Perestroika we have become familiar with the Russian cosmonauts’ talents in the art of hiding bottles of vodka between compartments full of electronics aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. These days, space flights have become so commonplace that this prohibition, which was only ever for form’s sake, has been lifted ... this time in the interests of scientific research. In the name of science, vats of beer and litres of wine will be allowed on the international space station, although, for now, only in order to carry out tests on “germination and gene-expression in microgravity.”
The Force: A Lightsaber that Shines in The Dark Side
The famous Atlanta firm has never denied its marketing genius, not since it found a way to tie itself into the biggest current trends and do so well enough to transcend them. It is even said that Father Christmas’s current red costume is a direct result of the Coca-Cola campaigns of the late nineteenth century. So, there is nothing innocent about Coca-Cola wanting to stamp its mark on the prolific universe of the famous intergalactic saga. Following on from the notorious “thermal detonators,” here is the lightsaber bottle, which lights up and goes out at a touch, like the original.
French Wine’s Loss of Influence over the last Decade
French wine is still selling just as well, but statistically, it is losing ground when it comes to new trend markers. The phenomenon is not new; competition has been talked about for years and now ... there’s no use accusing perfidious Albion, even if she is to blame for all French ills whether past or yet to come. The English, along with the Chinese, are the greatest fans of French wine. While the former gave up on the idea of competing with France in the art of viticulture back in the time of the Beatles, the latter are forecast to take wine’s number one spot in the coming decades. On top of that, there are the vast and sweeping plains of California’s Napa County, the legendary zeal and tenacity of the Australians, who have tripled, in less than 20 years, their national wine production, not forgetting the Chilean vintages, and right on France’s borders, the fierce competition of Spanish and Italian wines. However, these “threats” don’t seem to worry the French general staff overmuch, as pointed out with a great deal of solemn gravity by General Gamelin in May 1940: “France will win, because we are the strongest.”
A Drip-Feed of Anger
When a perfectly controlled tirade leads to the withdrawal of a mass-produced consumable, there is some interest in understanding the causes. In reality, there isn’t actually much to explain, except that the Evian “Drop” spent nearly five years being marketed at a prohibitive price (€1 per 200 ml) and, above all, outrageously packaged in a shell of polyethylene terephthalate with a scandalous carbon footprint in order to provide the equivalent of just two-thirds of a glass of water. This brought down the wrath of a certain Virginie B., executive director, who has “nothing against the multinationals,” but who “has had enough of seeing businesses act in ways that are incompatible with their professed values.” The message swiftly got through to the Danone Group, who decided to withdraw their product, described as “an insult to the planet, to your children, to your grandchildren...” A “drip-feed” online petition sufficed to bring an end to what has been termed an “environmental aberration.”