Opinion: The Modern Wine Drinker

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As you may know, Modernism was an intellectual movement that arose in the late XIX and early XX century as a result of the sweeping economical and technological changes during that period. Based on a utopian vision and belief in progress, the Modernists sought to break away from the classical tradition in the arts. The modern artist strived to produce art that reflected their reality rather than an idealized far away Greek and Roman classical past. In a similar manner, the modern wine drinker’s taste reflects its predilection for neogastronomy breaking away from the tradition of traditional wines challenging the apparatus of the wine industry.

Today’s wine drinker has a sensibility for artisanal natural wines because in their imagination they connect to a sense of place. This sense of place is fundamental to the concept of being and involves the embodiment of ecology, communal values and sound responsible gastronomical taste. In fact, it reminds me of the Pre-Raphaelites who sought to produce art that connected to nature while revolting against the genre painting of the time. In addition, the modern wine drinker approaches natural wine not as an object but as a relationship between himself/herself and the wine being drunk. It is a correspondence of stories between drinker and artisanal producer.

The modern wine drinker does not objectify wine and rejects the possessive gaze that the wine industry has imposed on the drinker. Traditional wine drinking does not escape consumerism and the idea that a bottle of wine is something to be possessed. This is a type of plantation capitalism in which the drinker presented with the illusion of no choice is blindly exploiting the material culture of wine to feed an illusion of being conspicuous. Like in art, the gaze does not escape wine. However, the drinker has a choice of refusing the normative and preserving the material culture of wine by drinking natural.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Pablo Picasso
Paris, June-July 1907. Source: MoMA.org


When I drink a natural wine, I think of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso. This landmark work by the fabled Spanish artist, precursor to Cubism departs away from the neoclassical tradition. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles is a blatant counterculture visual manifesto against the Classical Renaissance tradition of representing women as objects to be possessed. He archives this effect by the primitive Iberian depiction of the female models combined with the African masks covering their faces. Likewise, a natural wine breaks away from the tradition of making “perfect” wines, yet quite technical and soulless. The idea of perfection encompassing a particular set of flavor profiles and texture is not only an assault to the indigenous culture of grape growing but also to the ancestral collective practices of those wine artisans that make the ambrosian nectars that the modern wine drinker enjoy.

Resto review: Resto L’Assom

If you are curious enough or better said, having an understanding of your senses, you know that our food rituals are associated with special occasions such as the holidays or specific emotions: happiness or sadness. Food arouses our senses, feeding our emotions are making us story tellers of our emotional experiences.

As an university student, this period is particularly charged even more if you have a daughter and are separated. Add to this, the usual dose of procrastination for other intellectual pursues ( yes, I am aware of my delicious digress) and you have a recipe for a perfect disaster. Basically, this is the season when comfort food taste the best. There is aesthethic beauty in binging on a greasy sandwich or burger, much like Flux art. The performative action of repetitive binge eating is happiness for the senses.

” Do you want mayo in your club sandwich”, the lady behind the vintage kitschy counter told me. Dressed in black sweat pants, I went to visit one of my local food joints in L’assomption, the sleepy little village where I have been living since December 2019. L’Assomption is a beautiful village in the Lanaudiere region of Quebec. It has a mix of rural and artistic traits that are attractive to me. There is the Hector Charlan theater, a beautiful art gallery and a few interesting restaurants. The village does not have the cache for a Montreal hipster but its is the best option for an artsy person like myself.

My fix for the sunday night was a hefty club sandwich rather than the glorious poutine. This place has the reputation for one of the greatest poutines in the eastern part of the province. in fact, even the Quebec prime minister went to eat there. I went more for the sandwich, since I am not a poutine guy.

One of the greatest sandwiches that I have ever eaten. The chicken meat coming from the breast was juicy and not dry like many other renditions elsewhere. The sauce quite delicate with subtle vegetable nuances. The fries, slightly sweet with a crisp exterior and soft texture. This was a fantastic sandwich for a supper intermission when you are studying. I paired this dish while listening to Van Halen in Chom 97.7. My paper on Dali got an inspirational boost.

I highly recommend this place if you happen to be in L’assomption

Exposition Review: ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now,

Ernesto Yerena Montejano, Stand with LA Teachers!, 2019, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Patricia Tobacco Forrester Endowment, 2020.50.1, © 2019, Ernesto Yerena and Roxana Dueñas

The Coming of Age of the  Chicano Art Revolution in a burgeoning post-colonial American Art Movement

The first time I heard the word Chicano was in the movie American me ( 1992) which tells the story of Santana, a Chicano caudillo that created one of the most notorious Hispanic gangs in L.A

Many years after, I learnt that Chicanos are not Hispanics or Latinos living in the U.S. Chicano is also an assertive word with political and artistic connotations  associated with a civil right movement that started in the 1960’s in the United States. The Chicano movement was a strong political movement in American society during the agitated years of the Vietnam War, urban riots, the antiwar movement, and Watergate. The Chicano movement was one of the first militant groups that started to challenge the American ruling ruling class during the 1960s and 1970s.

Chicanos share the cultural heritage from the past nations such as the Olmec, Teotihuacan, Maya, Zapotec and Aztec. We are far away here  from gangster iconography. What’s also cool about the Chicano nation is not only the political history of the movement, but also the art medium to transmit this message . In ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now, at the Smithsonian Art Museum, the curious art lover can now learn much more about the graphic art expression of the Chicano nation from the mid 1960’s to the present day. Most of the exposition can be viewed online as a result of COVID-19, but it will return physically again  at the Smithsonian and Renwick Gallery once the pandemic subsides until August 21st, 2021. The exposition has been curated by E. Carmen Ramos with assistant help by Claudia Zapata. Both ladies have incredible depth of expertise in Latinxart. 

If you like poster art, you will be delighted to know that printed art was the medium favored by Chicano artists. Through screen-printing, the exhibition traces the beginnings of the Chicano civil right movement to today. The exposition covers a range of social subjects that have influenced the Chicano discourse such as labor, anti war, gender issues and social justice The viewer will be delighted to see the evolution of the styles of these posters that reflect the tastes of the public and the current art tendencies as well.  According to Ramos, “The exhibition explores how this early civil rights activity set the foundation for a truly noteworthy, politically engaged graphic arts movement among artists of Mexican descent and their cross-cultural collaborators that continues to thrive today, over five decades later. At a time when US society is grappling with how to face a history of systemic racism, this exhibition presents a long line of artists doing exactly that.” This is an important exhibition that frames the dynamic concept of the identity of the Chicano nation in US and International history.

The artists in the exhibition employ diverse artistic tones such as conceptualism, portraiture and appropriation to integrate the notions of the Chicano identity and political movement. For instance, viewers will marvel at the ingenious use of satire in the works of  Ester Hernandez. In 

Ester Hernandez, Sun Mad, 1982, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Tomás Ybarra-Frausto, 1995.50.32, © 1982, Ester Hernández

Sun Mad ( 1982-2008), she strongly critiques the social and environmental  aspects of the Californian grape industry. Via a box of Sun Maid raisins,  Hernandez appropriates  American food culture iconography and reconceptualizes into a post-colonial  visual discourse ( Sun Mad) that strongly takes a stand against pollution and anti-immigration in the grape business. The sweet and innocent image of a young white girl picking up grapes is turned into a skeleton with messages  such as “unnaturally grown with insecticides, miticides…” or “ Guaranteed Deportation…By Product of Nafta..”. There is more than meets the eye and the spectator feels that Hernandez has uncovered a secret that nobody wants to now.

Mario Torero, You Are Not a Minority!!, 1977, offset lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mario Acevedo Torero, 2020.9, © 1977, Mario Torero

You are not a minority!! (1977),  by  renowned Peruvian activist and artist Mario Torero is also another example of cultural appropriation to deliver a social unity message. Torero has used the legendary image of Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara who fought for a dream of unifying all the Latin American Nations in the 1960’s against U.S imperialism.The image combined with the slogan “You are not a minority!!” acts a sign for rebellion and sends a message of equal treatment to the dominant white American culture. More than 40 years old, the message is still quite relevant today not only for Chicanos but also for the Latinos living in the U.S

Stand with LA Teachers!(2019), is a commissioned work by artist  Ernesto Yesta Montejano for the United Teachers of Los Angeles’s strike in 2019. The union needed a poster individual for the message of better pay and working conditions that they wanted to transmit. Montejano chose the image of Roxana Duenas, a local community  Chicano history teacher. The poster portrays her as a proud and energetic teacher with a strong work rhetoric.  

¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now, includes important Chicano artists as well such as Rupert García, Malaquias Montoya, Juan Fuentes, and Yolanda López. It is free of charge and can be accessed by: 

Smithsonian Art Museum:

https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/chicano-graphics

Long Form-Dali’s surreal vision of wine in The Wines of Gala

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Portrait of a massive wine cat, red wine flowing from its whiskers to be collected by naked women from The Wines of Gala. Source: Taschen

Wine, when you drink it with the virtue of moderation, certainly is a pleasure. The pleasure of  a millenary drink that stimulates the senses and stimulates creativity  Throughout history, wine has been an inspirational hub and pleasure for the artists. For instance, some of the greatest avant garde artworks feature Pablo Picasso’s La Bouteille du Vin ( 1926) and Marc Chagall’s Double with a glass of wine. Both evoke the sensorial aspects of wine and have served to express the artist’s themes-love for Chagall and Cubist perception pleasure for Picasso.

Dali illustration for the 1958 vintage of Mouton Rothschild. Source: Mouton Rothschild

Surrealism had ardent wine lovers and Dali was one of them. In fact, he was commissioned by prestigious Bordeaux producer, Philippe de Rothschild to design the label for the 1958 vintage. In 1978  Dali published his wine book Wines of Gala, dedicated to Gala, her wife. In the guide, Dali groups wine by emotional experience, based on his famous credo “A real connoisseur does not drink wine but tastes of its secrets.” The book also contains  more than 140 reprinted and modified  sketches from Dali’s early work. Through synesthesia, Dali’s wine masterpiece invokes the polysensory aspects of wine to draw attention from the participant to the eroticism theme seldom expressed in his artist practice. This guide establish as well a kinship with its surrealistic artist peers and other  art movements such as Futurism in the field of sensory art. Finally,  Dali uses the wine guide as a protest tool against the conventions of wine tasting.

Inspired by Classical mythology,  the illustration from the guide named  Portrait of a massive wine cat, red wine flowing from its whiskers to be collected by naked women,  combines the sensorial language of wine with surrealistic artistic techniques such as automatism with the uncanny to bring to the surface his hidden lust for wine, desire and sexuality. 

Salvador Dali ( 1904-1989), the Catalan artist is heralded as one of the most important artists of the surrealism movement. He was a multidisciplinary artist, whose practice spanned painting, sculpture, product design and film. He is kindly remembered by Andre Breton, the father of Surrealism as the one and only artist who was capable to open the subconscious mind. He had a particular brand of Spanish Surrealism that was based on sexual neuroses, mortality and a strange phobia of grasshoppers. 

Dali’s SacredHeart. Source: Georges Pompidou Center

Dali loved creating strong sensations and scandals. His intention could be seen in works such as SacredHeart, where he writes “ Sometimes I spit with pleasure at the portrait of my mother”. The senses were a great inspiration for the Catalan artist as well. In his autobiography, The Secret Life of Salvador Dali, he recounts a lunch with friends where the wine remind him of the “ delicate secrets of the Mediterranean” and a “unique bouquet in which along with a great, great deal of unreality, one can almost detect the sentimental prickling taste of tears”. Dali was probably tasting a white wine and through the sense of taste, he made an analogy that reminded him of human tears. However, he seldom showed his lust for wine in his artist’s practice. Dali once also said that “ Among the five senses, smell is unquestionably the one that best gives the idea of immortality”. In fact, in 1983, he created his first fragrance as a tribute to her muse and wife Gala with whom he was crazy in love. For Dali, perfume was the “most beautiful messenger” of memories and happy moments. The perfume essence was reminiscent of jasmine and rose evoking a spiritual and exquisite experience. However, more important was the container of the perfume, a disembodied nose and mouth evoking the juicy taste of the mouth and bringing to mind eroticism.

Aphrodisiac Dinner Jacket. Source: Pinterest

As a matter of fact, eroticism was Dali’s greatest contribution to surrealism.  The French historian Jose Pierre states: “ Salvador Dali”s greatest contribution to Surrealism lay in his systematic exaltation of eroticism, that is, of his own wholly erotic personality”.  His passion for erotica can be seen in works such as Aphrodisiac Dinner Jacket (Veston Aphrodisiaque). This particular blazer was adorned with tiny glasses each filled with creme de menthe, a digestive with a reputation of strong aphrodisiac properties. In Lobster Telephone (1936), Dali replaces a telephone receiver with a lobster figure conveying the aphrodisiacal lovemaking  properties of eating a lobster to the participant. In both artworks, Dali used his favorite sense of smell to exalt erotica.

Lobster Telephone (1936) by Salvador Dali. Source: Tate

In portrait of a massive wine cat, red wine flowing from its whiskers to be collected by naked women from the Wines of Gala, the sense of smell and taste via synesthesia  are called again to explore the erotic  subconcious mind of Dali. This artwork  falls very much in line with the praxis of Surrealism. As Paung would state, “Surrealism establishes a bridge between the physical realm and the domain of dreams and illusions. In the surreal world, logic is paradoxical; physical principles and rules are defied, only limited by imagination. The expression is a reflection of the personal experience and psychological state of the creator”. Dali successfully ties the sensorial  language of wine such as colour, taste and smell to make a link with his erotic mind. 

This artwork could be seen as a continuation of the research in the study of sensory art  pioneered early in the twentieth century  by The Futurists with a few differences. Martinetti’s futurism explores kinetics via the sense of smell through food explorations. They saw scent as a fleeting moment which had to be augmented and decelerated to explore the realm of speed. On the other hand, Dali saw olfactory beauty via the consumption of everything that was edible or drinkable. In fact, in most of Dali’s practice, the gastronomic is reterritorialized to enter art into the body. As Dolphin would state about Dali: “All of his artworks are in search of the viscera, of the gut, in which they desire to disappear. With Dali, alimentary reterritorialization get its highest degrees of intensity.”

Meret Oppenheim: Dejeuner en Fourrure (1936). Source: sartle.com

Overall, Dali’s artwork in his wine guide is an important contribution on the polysensory of food & wine previously built by its surrealistic peers. Like Dali, other artists used food and related accessories to evoke a gustatory experience to represent a metaphor of erotica. For example, in Déjeuner en fourrure (1936) by Meret Oppenheim, the artist promotes a haptic sensation and stimulates the sense of taste. This piece suggests to an audience the contact between a human lip and female genitalia. An adventurous participant with a vivid imagination may see this surreal object also as the oral sexual practice of  cunnilingus, a mild expression of anthropophagy that intertwines  gustatory sensation with erotic pleasure.

Portrait of a massive wine cat, red wine flowing from its whiskers to be collected by naked women  is a reprint of two combined mediums: photography and painting. In a quick impression, it looks like the cat photography was inserted in an already established painting depicting an orgy in a dark cavernous environment.To the left of the white cat, fourth facial portraits are represented: three males and one feline conferring an eerie and perverse atmosphere. The lower part of the picture is filled with a group of naked women with wine overflowing in their bodies. The artistic technique for this piece might be described as decalcomania. As defined by MOMA, “ A transfer technique, developed in the 18th century, in which ink, paint, or another medium is spread onto a surface and, while still wet, covered with material such as paper, glass, or aluminum foil, which, when removed, transfers a pattern that may be further embellished upon..”. This technique was commonly used by Surrealists to promote Automatism, the artistic production without any interference of the conscious thought or moral concern. The main purpose of automatism was to freely explore the unconscious mind.

By Automatism, Dali’s secret obsession with sex comes to the surface and he used wine imagery to amplify this desire. Dali was frightened and obsessed with sex at the same time. For example, he preferred masturbation and voyeuristic pleasures such as being the participant in orgies. These were current themes in many of his artworks. About this, he used to say: “Now sexual obsessions are the basis of artistic creations. Accumulated frustration leads to what Freud calls the process of sublimation. Anything that does not take place erotically sublimates itself in the work of art”. In the artwork, Dali draws a parallel between the sensuality of wine and sexuality.  The red colour of wine evoques passion and creates a powerful aphrodisiac image in the spectator mind. In addition, the tannins of a red wine evolve the softness of cashmere and being in the arms of a naked woman.

Dionysus Spitting the Complete Image of Cadaques on the Tip of the Tongue of a Three-storied Gaudinian Woman. Source: Dali Museum

A Bacchanalia in a dream is the first quick image that the artwork conveys to the participant mind. In his practice, Dali borrowed elements of Classical Mythology from Ancient Greece to explore themes of lust and desire. For instance, in a previous artwork titled Dionysus Spitting the Complete Image of Cadaques on the Tip of the Tongue of a Three-storied Gaudinian Woman, Dali positioned a wine bottle symbolistic of the Phallus  as part of Dionysus. The greek deity is charging out an image of Cadaques, Spain which lands in the tongue of a woman. Here again, Dali arouses the viewer with his invocation of the male orgasm in a woman’s mouth. Likewise, in our particular artwork of the guide, Dali uses the  Bacchanalia theme to symbolize images of group sex and euphoria by the ingestion of mind altering substances such as wine. The purpose of the bacchic rites was to induce  states of divine possession to convey a primal state of being  and the senses were the portal for this state.  The group of naked women in the picture symbolizing nymphs  seem to be under a sexual trance induced by the intoxication of  free flowing wine. Under this spell, they lure three bearded men that are reminiscent of fauns to join them. By synaesthesia, this visual image triggers in the audience a form of Olfactophilia, where an individual derives sexual pleasure from smell and odours. The erotic focus relates to the body odours of a sexual partner and is compounded by the smell of wine. Both occur in the olfactory lobe  which is also called the emotional brain, the area that sexual desires come from.

 The cat, a central element in this piece as well stimulates the imagination of the audience as well and brings to mind positive and negative feelings. Its gaze is mysterious and lures the participant into the picture. Across cultures, cats have symbolized the positive aspects of fecund femininity.  For instance, in ancient Egypt and Rome, cats were associated with the deities Bast and Artemis both representing fertility. On the other hand, Medieval Christianity, saw cats as  symbolizing the negative aspects of women such as cruelty, betrayal, cunning and witchcraft. In this particular case, the white cat represent the love and hate relationship that Dali and the surrealists had with the opposite sex. The cat is a symbol of eros (libido)  and femme fatale as well  who precipitates physical and emotional castration. This connection between eroticism and death was often shown in surrealistic themes.

Like mentioned above, the framing of an innocent  cat in an uncommon  environment ( dark cavern, naked women with wine and pervert masks)  conveys an eerie and devious atmosphere to the audience and it is an example of the use of the uncanny in Surrealism. The uncanny can be defined as an unsettling feeling created by objects familiar to us placed in  bizarre circumstances. The Surrealists borrowed the concept from Freud to bring out repressed memories to the surface. The cat is the link between the dark sexual hidden subconscious of Dali and reality bringing out his vivid fetish for wine. In fact, Dali suffered from something called polymorphous perversity as defined by the American Psychological Association as “ in the classical psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud, the response of the human infant to many kinds of everyday activities posited to provide sexual excitation, such as touching, smelling, sucking, viewing, exhibiting, rocking, defecating, urinating, hurting, and being hurt”. Dali wants to convey to the audience through this rich visual representation his sexual deviant behaviour of voyeurism which he was infamous for.

Finally, In Portrait of a massive wine cat, red wine flowing from its whiskers to be collected by naked women, Dali rebels against the conceived notion of wine as being a drink of the civilized people. Traditionally, wine has been seen as the beverage choice that conveys an aura of sophistication and restraint and Dali breaks all these conventions by conferring wine an image of excess and debauchery. Surrealism has been usually understood in the context of psychoanalysis and dreams but never as a force for social change. Art historian, Sidra Stich defines surrealism as  “a movement devoted to rupture, excess, disorder and disorientation” She praises the Surrealist resistance to convention and its strong disapproval of civilized social values.

In conclusion, Portrait of a massive wine cat, red wine flowing from its whiskers to be collected by naked women presents the participant a twisted but beautiful vision of the place of wine in the erotic mind of Dali. The Catalan artist exhaltes the sensorial aspects of wine via mythology  to draw attention to its dark vision of sexuality. Through automatism and the uncanny, Dali provides the participant an alternative eerie vision of wine that shatters the traditional wine conventions. Dali’s wine guide violently shakes the credo of the wine drinker and proposes a new way of understanding wine the emotional experience. This was the will of the surrealists and Dali carried out to the letter.  

An ode for Cinsault

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An illustration from Dali’s wine book: The wines of Gala

A poem to Cinsault

From the pastures of the Rhone 

To the arid lands of the Rousillon,

You exalt me with your soft deviled nature

Oh Cinsault!!!

You bring me frenesi

Like a Mozart Lieder under the moonlight

And joy to the poet’s heart

Gourmand and provoking

Exciting like the first kiss

Of the new lover

A dark paradise for the senses

Fulfilling like the chant 

Of the hedonist chained to the gallows of the standard life

Breton on automatic writing

November 19th, 2020. The start of trying something different:Inspired by Breton’s automatism which he eloquently states:

Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express—verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner—the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern

Sun Ra: Space is the place

In keep with one of the fundamentals ideas of my manifesto: wine is poetry. It is tougher that you could think, because you have to be the gatekeeper for rational reason not to enter and pollute your beautiful free association emotional thoughts. I am actually quite happy to do it. Of course, an extra little help was needed in the form of a slender musical capsule by Coltrane and Sun Ra ( again!!, more automatism, as I write these lines). I am happy with the bravado of my poem.

I love my Rousillon. It is a lifter of an abused spirit, a free agent of joy and it simply taste incredible good. I recently bought a case of Cinsault nature by Domaine Cazes, Samso 2019 or Cinsault Nature available in Quebec via Advini for the modest price of $25.40 This is the wine that inspired me to do this poem.

Domaine Cazes-Samso aka Cinsault Rouge 2019 ( Private Import, $25.40. 6 pack case)

On the nose, aromas punctuated by leather, garrique and a hint of spice, complemented by mint and rosemary. On the palate, gourmand with lots of sexy flavours reminiscent of more red cherry with bittersweet chocolate. Juicy and fleshy and quite elegant. Really incredible value for the money invested. Wine of Sensuality

Tuesday wine poem

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Next year, if everything is ok, I plan to self publish a small books of poems. From time to time, I will give you a small taste

A happy glass of wine

Two pennies for a Tuesday night
popping up the -A-Vino
Jamming up with Bunuel
Cracking up with the lobster swinger

Who can take the longest sip?

Its is beautiful how I let go
Dali Moustache is bright red
And Kahlo is drinking Montrachet

Naked soul wine tasting
The artist wine matters
A kiss of the poet, drunk in a lake of passion & fire

The night is full with trifle desire
Frothy stars bathing in the sweet nectars of autumn rituals
Dreaming about an endless sea of pet-nat affection desire

Marco Giovanetti

The Wine Manifesto

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

When I started writing about wine, circa 2011-2012 my idea was to find a medium to channel my passion for wine & food. Like a new relationship, everything was new and perfect. I was in love with the image of the wine writer: free tasting, wine samples and the glamour of wine travels. In fact, my ego went to the roof and viewed myself as better than the common man. My writings and the praise from my colleagues fueled this being inside me. I wanted to compete and become better. I was very ambitious and got what I always wanted: Free wine travels and wine bottles, spotlight on the media, etc..

As the years passed, this enchantment started to wear off. There was something not quite right in the air. I could not pinpoint it with my finger and was starting to doubt if I could make a proper contribution in my practice. Everything was becoming repetitive and found myself talking about the same wines in theme cycles like the rest of my colleagues. My creative voice was asphyxiating and this was getting me sick. The event that saved me was the discovery of natural wine. This was the seed of a new vision for my practice.

As time passed, I started to realize the cynicism of my local wine industry in Quebec and the rest of Canada. I realized that I was a pawn of the industry, censored by the diktat of the wine importers, PR agencies and the liquor monopolies such as the SAQ and LCBO. Quickly, I became an outcast because I was talking about natural wines and very fast, I was kicked out of the establishment. I remember the phrase of a good colleague of mine when I stop receiving wine samples: ” You are not anymore good PR material”

Separation, the pandemic and my new venture into Art studies have completely changed my outlook of wine. I will present you below a set of principles that have been simmering in my mind for a while. This is my manifesto:

  • First and foremost, I am a wine drinker then a wine writer. If I dont love wine, I cannot properly write about it.
  • Wine is Art. Wine is the narrative of a place of a land and the people that make the precious liquid in the bottle. For that reason, it should be treated as a cultural object.
  • I am the agent of my own voice. Wine is not strange to the ideological apparatus of the capitalist system. For that reason, I refuse any affiliation with any commercial entity with the purpose of exploiting it for a deliberate promotion to satisfy the market taste
  • I shall write about what I like and not what the market tells me to. Artisanal producers are always welcomed and wine corporations should go away. Please bear in my mind, if you are thinking about sending me samples.
  • Wine tasting is about sensations and emotions as well. For too long, I have been a victim of the colonial tasting approach of the WSET ( Wine & Spirit Education Trust). Like an art object, wine should be described as the emotion it conveys not just the taste. This is more of a holistic method
  • Wine shall serve as social cohesive, as a tool of bringing together people. Wine shall not be used as an instrument for social segregation but rather unity.
  • Wine is above all natural and you shall not manipulate it to strip its true aesthetic qualities.
  • I recognize that the old and new world has been a reference for the production of wine. However, for far too long, they have imposed an ideal that prevents new avant garde expressions or visions of wine.
  • Wine shall be consumed in the table and along with other art objects. You shall not disrepect wine by consuming it along popular mediums of culture
  • Wine is liquid poetry and it makes you alive.

Me and the tools of my practice

Disclaimer: This post originally was intended to be an exercise for one my courses at my new Art History Bachelor program. The author which is me is sharing with you this information because it is considered to be pertinent for the reader to get to know me better.

What is a wine bottle?

A bottle of wine is an art object and the practice of the wine writer is to establish a narrative to communicate its meaning to the drinkers

The wine bottle comes already with a pre established context. It is a combination of visual, cultural, and geographical narratives.

At first, I look at the bottle which is the receptacle of the wine. My attention is drawn to its shape, labels and even how it is closed at the top. This is the aesthetic appearance and I think of the style it tries to convey: Classic or Avant Garde, Traditional versus Modern. It is the visual tale about  the birth of that wine and the style of the producer. If you think of the labels of Mouton Rothschild and Sine What Non, you will get my gist.

I continue further with it’s cultural narrative which is not visually present in the bottle. The style of the wine is a combination of technical and cultural characteristics. It is interdisciplinary because it is a combination of science and social traditions. Basically, this is the science of fermentation and aging with a cultural frame around it. This framework is a complex combination of personal, family and regional characteristic with the end result of interpreting the Terroir of the wine 

My practice consists of interpreting the context of the wine bottle ( primary resource) and assigning my own narrative. This might be seen as a reconciliation of narratives or a mediation of experiences between the drinker and producer.

The interpretation is done through the act of wine tasting. I assign organoleptic words which are specific language tools of my practice. However, colour, smell and taste are much dependent on my tasting experience. Beyond taste, I will also bring to my narrative my emotions and past experience with the same style of wine. Basically, through my training in my practice, I am giving a secondary meaning to my primary resource and this is what a wine writer does.

My narrative goes even further by transmuting into other disciplines. How does this wine pair with food or with a painting or with a musical compositions. The wine writer never ceases to give concepts to the primary resource

Tools of the wine writer

There are many tools that have helped me across the years to learn about wine. From top left, my senior wine peers such as Konrad Ejbich and Gabriel Riel Salvatore have mentored me  in how to become a better wine writer and taster.

In addition, learning about wine is also about the cumulative  experience of wine and food pairing. Wine should be placed along food, otherwise it does not have any gastronomical meaning. Then there are the wine travels. Wine is all about place so you need to travel to vineyards as much as you can to see where wine is born. The top right is a beautiful vineyard sitting on a schist slope in the Roussillon, France.

Furthermore, I have learnt a solid theoretical background about my wine practice by reading trade magazines such as Noble Rot, Bibenda and The World of Fine Wine. A short History of wine was a thought provoking book by Rod Philipps that helped understand the historical context of wine. Finally, then there are the wine mavericks, those avant garde wine personalities that have broken away with traditional wine thinking  models such as Gabrio Bini in the bottom right and Sine Non Qua next to Bini. They have provided me with a new methodological  approach  for my wine practice.  My favorite quote is from celebrated British wine writer Hugh Johnson who places wine as a connector for human experiences across time.

What is the future?

The future of my wine practice can be summarized in my first artist statement:

Marco Giovanetti was born in Caracas, Venezuela in 1978 and moved to Montreal at the age of fifteen. His racial background is multiethnic, he has Italian, Venezuelan and Colombian roots. Giovanetti’s education is multidisciplinary by nature. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Concordia University and  a Master in E-Business from ICADE in Spain. Marco is also a professional baker, sommelier and wine writer. At the moment, he is pursuing a Bachelor of Art history with film studies at Concordia University.

Giovanetti’s main practice explores the relationship between wine and life in spheres such as gastronomy and the arts. Since 2012, he has been curating the wine sections of lifestyle magazines such as Panoram Italia and The Montreal Times. He is also a wine communicator and a consultant. Wine criticism for Marco Giovanetti is an interdisciplinary approach  that blends wine tasting, personal experiences and science with the fine arts. 

Marco Giovanetti is an avid natural wine supporter. He strongly supports that wine should be produced ethically respecting the environment and the cultural identity of the producer and region. His voice on the subject can be found on his self published wine blog: ilvinodimarco.com

See you soon

Wine as an Art narrative

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My formal debut in the study of Art History has led to think about my current practice: the business of wine writing and how is related to art

What is art?. This is the question that I will ponder in the next three years.  For now, let’s say that Art is the production of a form or object that conveys a state of emotion, sensation or provokes insight of your human condition.

When we talk about an art object, we are assigning a specific aesthetic judgment and by doing so, a unique narrative is tagged  to it.  Basically, what recognition, appreciation or criticism you give to this object. This personal rendition is the magic that turns an object into a work of art. A painting by itself is  just a combination of paints layed out on a canvas. An sculpture is just a block of chiseled rock and so on. This is the separation of beauty and function from an object

It is the same principle with wine. By itself, wine  is the by product of fermented grape juice that results in the production of alcohol and a certain pigmentation of the liquid.

You give aesthetic worth to wine when you confer specific organoleptic qualities to it and as a result this makes it  an object of art. This is the judgment of the wine writer or the wine critic. By the way, a wine drinker becomes a de facto critic when he/she produces a judgement on wine.

Beyond the organoleptic, wine as an art object serves  the mean of catharsis about a certain human condition as well Let me ilustrate my point with a clip of one of the greatest wine movies Sideways:

Maya’s dialogue brings out to light the collective memory of a vintage and the cycle of life and death. The human feeling of empathy is also applied to wine. It is a beautiful personal fictional narrative.

There are no good or bad wines just our own narratives to specific bottles. How we form these narratives depends on our past relationship with wine but that’s another history.

Wine Review: Cascina Tavijn Ottavio 2018

As I get older and continue my exploration of Italian wines, purity and originality are two key qualities that set the standard for me in the wines of the Italian peninsula. Beyond aesthetics, I am searching for wines that speaks of the territory and tell the story of the people that make them.

After all wine is an object of art because it elicit powerful emotions. Piedmont in Italy is full of artisanal winemakers with a beautiful story to tell. These are the inspirings artists that brings us the great liquid canons that we enoy every night.

One of these protagonists is Cascina Tavijin. Nadia Verrua reminds me for a strange reason of the Countess of Castiglione. Maybe because she was flamboyant or plain original?. Cant pinpoint why, but her wines are truly beautiful and original.

It took me a while to get the Ottavio bottling ( which Nadia named after his father). It is a 100% Grignolino with great rustic Piedmont rustic roots. It is available by strict allocations only and it might be sold out by the time I am writing these lines. Represented by Oenopole, it has a great price tag ( $27.55. Case of 12)

Cascina Tavjin Vino Rosso Ottavio 2018 ( $27.55-Case of 12, private import-oenopole.ca)

100 % Grignolino. Aromas of dry redcurrants, roasted herbs complemented by delicate nuances of cacao buds and tobacco leaf. Medium to full body and quite earthy. Savoury animal notes with a killer finale that reminds me of labrador tea leaves. Quite harmonious wine. Well paired with a simple pasta consisting of spinach, mushrooms and pepperoncino with lots of Reggiano.