Explanatory note: this post has been prompted by the current debate between the anti-alcohol lobby and the wine industry. It has been running for several years now, but is becoming increasingly prominent.
I believe it's the most important and potentially damaging long-term issue the industry is facing.
So far, the arguments from both sides have tended to be antagonistic and unconstructive. Such impassioned rhetoric polarises the debate, and makes it much harder to have rational discussion.
My manifesto is intended to be conciliatory, realistic and discursive. It's a way to promote reasonable, respectful and open-minded discussion about a topic which has become increasingly combative.
It might be naive, but it's worth a shot.
Assuring the Future of Wine: a manifesto
- We believe that wine is a drink with unique and irreplaceable cultural, social and artistic value, which deserves preservation and protection.
- We also believe that alcohol in wine can cause serious harm to the health of the individual, and of society as a whole.
- We make no claims regarding any purported health benefits of wine. This is because studies on the effects of alcohol on health, whether positive or negative, are now so numerous and contradictory that they have become impotent, distracting and counter-productive.
- We believe that the best way to tackle alcohol abuse is in collaboration. However, the implicit bias of wine industry bodies and religious groups means they should not be given undue prominence in the debate.
- Our goal is to preserve and protect wine, not just as an invaluable work of human ingenuity, but as an industry that supports many people around the world, especially in rural communities that rely on wine to make a living.
- We acknowledge that the wine industry has a responsibility to combat the harm that alcohol can cause.
- Consequently, we are open to all options that aim to help reduce alcohol-related damage, but we oppose any legislation that will unduly compromise or restrict the enjoyment and culture of wine in our society in general.
The wine industry and the anti-alcohol movement often seem to have irreconcilable objectives. This opposition has resulted in significant ill-feeling but little progress, if any.
Both factions need to admit the merits of the other's arguments, and to stop relying on contradictory studies and statistics. If we are to combat the harm caused by alcohol while ensuring the future prosperity of wine, we need to reframe the debate; to extend an olive branch. This manifesto is an attempt to do exactly that.