Hedonism and hard work

By Panos Kakaviatos for wine-chronicles.com 

30 May 2019

I started reflecting on these two words while in Bordeaux during the famous Vinexpo event earlier this month. Every two years, this massive wine and spirits trade fair for professionals includes many fine lunches and dinners. I usually stay for the entire gig, but I was only there for two days this year, given my work for the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

As ever, it proved to be a fabulous merry-go-round of lunches, dinners and fine to great wines. A kind of Cannes Film Festival but for wine geeks.

But behind the culinary glitz is hard work, on the part of many in the wine trade and in wine writing.

Hard-working, dedicated writers busily researched articles by meeting winemakers and distributors. Take for example Jane Anson, who is now working on a comprehensive book about Bordeaux in general, to be called Inside Bordeaux, modeled after Jasper Morris’ Inside Burgundy. My old friend and former decanter.com editor Adam Lechmere was at the venue as well, recently named director of a brand new wine publication Club Oenologique.

Negociants, buyers and sellers were striking deals. It may seem like fun and games, the wine trade, but it is serious business. According to a report on the global wine market wine trade revenue was estimated as well over $300 billion last year and is expected to generate revenue of over $420 billion by 2024. Detailed business analyses like this one explain which markets are more export-friendly and which are up and coming.

And a certain fever is on for 2018 Bordeaux futures purchasing, given many rave reviews by influential critics.

In all this business, one cannot but recall how much a sensual pleasure that wine is. So why not take advantage of events like the media dinner during Vinexpo at the celebrated Château d’Yquem, set in the gently rolling hills of Sauternes?

Wine is culturally meaningful, too. Yquem CEO Bernard Arnault reminded us about that, as his welcoming remarks included the story of Thomas Jefferson having bought cases of Yquem for first American president, George Washington, and for himself (video below, in French).

Wine is also about serious life events.

Over lunch, a wine trade contact told me that she had to go to a funeral later in the week. It was for a dear family friend who succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the all too young age of 32. This person had led a healthy life, exercised, never smoked and drank only moderately. Enjoying lunch with a fine Bordeaux gave us at least some pleasure.

We should all take care of our health. And while active, we should do meaningful things, whether raising children properly, writing a great book to enlighten readers, or doing something for humanity in general.

We have but one life, which should be filled with joy, friendship and family. And a bit of hedonism, too. 😉


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