In the time of the Great Gatsby, clothes certainly did make the man. However, strip away the illusion of fashionable wealth; what have you got? The naked truth. To Mark Twain, clothes were a bare necessity when he remarked that clothes only made the man since the naked were rarely taken seriously. For Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, regardless of whether we wore rags or riches, we were all the same underneath. In fact, she was willing to “skin humanity to prove it”. When you consider that a bottle of 1997 Domaine de la Romanée Conti can command up to $1,540, it’s not what’s underneath that counts but rather, what the best-dressed grape is wearing this year.
It never ceases to amaze me that very few moviegoers stay for the credits. If you think about it, without those hundreds, even thousands of off-screen players contributing behind the scenes, that film, whether Oscar material or not, would remain an unfulfilled idea. We take those who do the back-office work for granted. Drudge work, if not done, not only makes or breaks a film production, it could also topple businesses. These are your unsung heroes who give their all and get neither glory nor credit for their contributions to a successful outcome. Included in the legions of unsung heroes are several underappreciated workhorses in the world of wine. As the credits roll on Chapter 3 of How to Taste by Jancis Robinson, let’s take the time to appreciate the role these unsung varietals play in the production of some of the world’s renowned wines.
The newest hobby of the Internet generation seems to be tracing one’s ancestry. My prince of a brother-in-law has been so dedicated to tracing his roots that the wave of enthusiasm has swept not only his family, but has rippled over to his extended family, me included. But long before finding our roots became the thing to do, there was a group of dedicated detectives tracking the origins and migration of, not man, but the grape. They are known as ampelographers. Amazingly, with the advent of DNA testing in the genealogical game of connecting the ancestral dots, some of those newly discovered dots have been the key to unlocking some provocative pedigrees.
A catwalk can be a narrow walkway high above a stage, or a fashionable ‘runway’ where the pin-up pulchritude of haut couture parades the latest fashions of Paris, New York, London and Milan. But catwalks are not the exclusive domain of the Heidi Klums of the world. There is another world of vogue – the world of varietal and viniculture – where the grape models the designs of the winemaker.