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Wine, Networks and Scales

Intermediation in the production, distribution and consumption of wine

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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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Wine as an Instrument of Global History

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KATHLEEN A. BROSNAN

An anonymous author once penned, “Water separates the people of the world; wine unites them”1. Designed to celebrate the communitarian value of wine, this poetic phrase nonetheless obfuscates an important historical reality. Rather than barriers, oceans and rivers long have served as regional, national, and international highways of commerce. They have connected the world’s distant peoples in trade, and, in turn, in interconnected environmental, social, and political transformations. The history of wine is such a story of migration. Waterways provided transport networks for wine, and all that wine entailed – vines and their pests, viticultural and enological knowledge, and consumer preferences. As ships moved vitis vinifera from Eurasia to Africa, the Americas, and Australasia, wine functioned as an instrument of ecological imperialism, settler colonialism, and cultural homogenisation.

The international movement of commodities, people, capital, culture and ideas, as well as the dispersion of flora, fauna, and microbes – has occurred for millennia. Trade goods, including living beings, flowed across porous, ever-shifting political borders. Vines and wines were part of this traffic. There is general consensus that by 5500 BCE, farmers in the Caucasus first domesticated the wild Eurasian grapevine, vitis vinifera sylvestris, to produce wines which developed a reputation as a luxury drink. Significant shipments of such finished products would wait perhaps another 2500 years until the development of bottle-necked pottery jars facilitated the storage and carriage of wine over long distances. Vine cultivars, however, began to move sooner leading to the development of...

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