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Wine, Networks and Scales

Intermediation in the production, distribution and consumption of wine


Edited By Stéphanie Lachaud-Martin, Corinne Marache, Julie McIntyre and Mikaël Pierre

Wine as a product arises from human connections in know-how and trade as much as from the natural environment in which grapes are grown. At each stage of decision-making about growing grapes, making wine, selling and drinking it, people with different roles are networked together into systems of production and distribution. The authors in this collection offer new studies of the individuals and groups who act as connectors in these networked systems, intermediating in the delivery of wine from growers’ vines to consumers’ glasses. These actors operate at multi-layered scales of geography or within multiple regimes of governance, all the while taking account of arbitrations of quality and taste. This collection highlights how intermediators in many different wine countries and periods of history are, and have been, significant agents of continuity and change in the wine industry.

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The globalisation of the wine trade since the 1990s has brought about wide-ranging changes in the perception of wine and purchasing and consumption practices depending on the people and the places being considered. In most major cities and in many parts of the world it is possible to buy and drink wine of any origin, sometimes made on the other side of the world. At the end of the 20th century, scientists specialising in wine and vines made available new kinds of knowledge and technologies for perfecting methods for cultivation, vinification and the transport of wine. These have revolutionised the age-old traditions of a product which had historically acquired a social and cultural position that was very particular and often imbued with luxury and prestige. This can be seen when studying the philosophy and the trade patterns of Europe in the past – when men of letters viewed the vineyards as symbols of beauty and civilisation and when wine was seen as nourishment, either sacred or dangerous according to how it was used – and in the present day. Since 2008 researchers in humanities and social sciences from different parts of the world have paid growing attention to the social and cultural meaning of wine according to the place and the people present. This field of research, which at first was reserved to certain disciplines such as anthropology, has grown over the past ten years to include all the humanities and social...

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