by Ron Washam

The World Cup of Wine

I don’t care about Canadian wine. I don’t know anybody who does. Canadians should be making wine like Jamaicans should be bobsledding. Oh, but they make great Ice Wines, eh! I hear this all the time and I think, “Yes, pour Canadian wine over ice and it’s much better. Add some Canada Dry and it’s the best it will ever be.” (Oddly, I actually think in quotation marks. It’s a neurological disorder I suffered after a blunt force trauma incident involving Natalie MacLean’s hair.) But it’s not just Canadian wine I don’t care about. I don’t care about wine from the Canary Islands either. Tweet that if you want. I don’t care about wines from China. I haven’t even had a wine from China and I don’t care about them. Why in the hell would I drink a Chinese wine? It just seems wong. I don’t even know where to buy a Chinese wine. Which brings to mind the question, does a Chinese wine shop employ Chinese checkers?

The problem is, there are just too many wine regions in the world as it is. You know, the REAL wine regions, the ones we actually buy and drink—France, Italy, Spain, California, South Africa, Australia, Germany, Portugal… Those are complicated wine growing regions, most of them with hundreds of years of tradition, and which produce all of the greatest wines in the world. Why do we even have to talk about wines from Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Bulgaria, Tasmania…and a zillion others? But you bring one of those countries up dismissively, let’s say North Korea, and someone inevitably says, “But I’ve had some really good wines from North Korea!” Moron. (Though, as an aside, I’m a big admirer of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s new line of wine barrels. They are all the rage. Who doesn’t like Un-oaked Chardonnay?) Can’t we all just agree to spend our time talking about the REAL wines of the world? That’s what people want to know about, not the latest Peruvian Dornfelder.

I think we should have a World Cup of Wine. It would be like the one soccer holds way too often. Wait, it’s football, right, not soccer? Like it’s Shiraz, not Syrah. We Americans call it soccer. Soccer is that poetic and graceful game of skill where you’re not allowed to use your hands and arms. In competitive swimming, that’s called “Drowning.” Isn’t it sort of stupid to have a sport where you can’t use half of your body to play? Is there a sport that doesn’t allow you to use your legs, aside from wheelchair basketball? I always forget to call it football rather than soccer. Soccer is a cerebral game, Football is a cerebral hemorrhage game. I think I can keep that straight.

Anyway, why not have a World Cup of Wine? Any country that makes wine could try to qualify for the finals, and, as an upside, you can bet your ass Brazil won’t be in. Or Sweden. Or Cameroon, for that matter. None of those Third World countries in the World Wine Cup — except Greece, of course.

The object of the World Cup of Wine would be to eliminate those countries whose wines aren’t worth writing or talking about from wine journalism. Essentially, try to eliminate all of that extra noise so that we can focus on wines that matter. Sure, they’d still be allowed to make wine, to have wineries, we don’t want to take away the majority of the world’s wedding venues, we’d all just agree to stop talking about them for at least the four years until the next World Cup of Wine. Wouldn’t that be lovely? No World of Fine Wine articles about Lebanese terroir (though one has to admire terroir that can actually explode). No Decanter piece on the overlooked wines of Switzerland. (I can hear that moron now, “I’ve had a lot of great Swiss wine. The best Swiss wines never leave the country!” So look at Swiss wines the same you look at Gitmo detainees—really thin and watery.) Instead, journalists would agree to spend their time and energy writing about wines that ordinary people actually care about. Yes, I know, it’s a crazy dream, but it’s my crazy dream.

The World Cup of Wine would attract the finest wine judges in the world, and, in tribute to FIFA, from whom the idea is borrowed, they won’t be allowed to use their arms or hands. This will increase the TV ratings. Who doesn’t want to watch Jancis drink from her stemware like a kitty? I’d anticipate a huge turnout for France vs. Italy, or California vs. Australia. Crowds would be dressed in their country’s colors and would chant rhythmically as the judges tasted. “Hundred points! Hundred points!” Tension would build until the final moments when the judges’ results were announced. Fights would break out in the stands between rival wine connoisseurs from different countries, the deafening sound of breaking Riedel stemware the equivalent of an ordinary Saturday night in a nice restaurant. Sommeliers from all over the world would be brought in to calm the hooligans with threats of “opening a second bottle” and “how about a nice flight of Pinot Gris to start?” Words that chill the heart of every wine lover.

Yes, France and Italy will be favored. But everyone will cheer for whatever underdog gets in to the final rounds. Will it be South Africa? Or maybe those fightin’ Kiwis will get in with their giant bladders filled with Sauvignon Blanc (I may not have phrased that properly — I mean how they ship their wines from New Zealand, not their actual physical maladies). Even one of the South American countries may have an outside chance at making the finals. Though the way wine judges hate Malbec, pesky Argentina doesn’t have a wine forger’s chance in Hell. The World Cup of Wine is a guaranteed month of fine wine entertainment. And with no bathroom breaks allowed for the judges, it will be fun to wager who will be issued the first Yellow Card. My money’s on Broadbent.

Once the games are over, the winners decided, eight countries will be left standing, eight countries’ wines the focus of wine journalism. Make the rest of those wines from the rest of those loser countries go away. Wines you can’t buy anywhere anyway. Wines you’ve never heard of and have no interest in. Wines with their quality exaggerated by writers on expense-paid junkets. Wines that seemingly exist just so that some wine writer can impress you with his superior knowledge. Wines you’ll never taste, and have no desire to taste. Once every four years, we acknowledge them. Then we make them go away.

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