True Graffitivinooh! Although I am not a contemporary art aficionado, lately when I was judging wine at Bergamo’s ‘Emozioni dal Mondo Merlot e Cabernet Insieme’ at the Contemporary Art Museum ALT in Alzano Lombardo, I couldn’t help feeling thrilled by the surrounding art collection of the Radici family, which includes the odd graffiti piece. There and then I realised that graffiti, an art form whose value is contested, can at times strike a cord and move your soul, leave you in awe and make you go ‘Jeez’!
Graffiti is not an aberration of modern times. Neither is it indifferent to the world of wine. An ancient example of graffiti, carvings on a tavern wall in Pompeii about the owner of the establishment, brings shame to him and his questionable wine.
“Landlord, may your lies malign
Bring destruction on your head!
You yourself drink unmixed wine,
Water sell your guests instead.”
As I tasted and scored flight after flight of competing wines in this inspiring creative setting, it crossed my mind that numerical scoring systems make little or no allowance for the emotions that the better wines (should) evoke in us. In fact, trying to encapsulate a wine’s qualities in a single score suppresses its precious status as a uniquely stimulating source of sensual pleasure and conviviality.
I know. When I wear my tutor cap I advocate that students use, or at least start off using a 20 point scale. I even carefully designed a most accurate score sheet after masters Ronald S. Jackson and Michael Broadbent for them.
But isn’t discipline the mother of true freedom? I can’t help believing that the most talented of all graffitists is the wall painter that has suffered years of study of all the different art eras (from Early Christian Art over Renaissance, Impressionism, Symbolism, Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Dada, Bauhaus, Surrealism to Pop Art) before taking to the streets spray can in hand to reveal pure sensory qualities – like Rothko maybe?
Likewise the lover of wine in me is dying to get out again and reconnect with the inexplicable beauty of wine and let free rein to ‘begeisterung’.
I vow that I’ll time warp back to that frame of mind where I transcend the emptiness in the glass that sits between a superlative number (100 or 20/20 or 5 stars) and a pragmatic self. If there’s one yardstick of quality by which a Beaujolais, for instance, can be measured alongside a Beaucastel it’s the oooh-factor.
I must surrender again to the truism of ‘winefulness’. If only all wines were good enough to allow me to. Until then we need a yardstick; so I come round again. But let me style one that at least tolerates the vinous X-factor, right?