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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 chapters in this book highlight the evolution of the complex mechanisms of wine markets through the negotiations, collaborations and adaptations of actors in the processes of informing and reforming institutions of supply and regulation at local, national and international scales. Wine is a commodity produced, distributed and consumed through the intermediation of actors with varying modes of influence. Over time the intermediations of these individuals and groups have, by turns, informed and reformed the economic, socio-cultural and legal structures in which wine markets function. The contributions in Wine, Networks and Scales offer a broad analysis of the connections between producers, merchants, brokers, prescribers and consumers, from the late 17th century to the recent present. Wine is, indeed, an instrument of global history and contributors pay particular attention to the 19th century. This epoch marked a transitional period, when wine markets extended from Europe to all of the continents and regions of the world – the Americas, Africa and Oceania – during the macrostructural coalescence of globalisation.

Adaptation to markets is one of the key elements for which intermediations proved instrumental and new forms of intermediations emerged between the different actors of the wine industry from the 18th century. Disruptions in the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century in France led to the segmentation of the markets. Dishonourable merchant practices and predations necessitated a regulation system set by private socio-economic groups. A complexification of the market occurred in the second...

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