How wine became Modern

This post was written by Andrea Paoletti

How wine became modern | SF MOMA | San Francisco | USA

Great to see this different theatrical show about wine. I have seen many exhibition about the history of wine and local italian producers, but this is the first time that someone tells it in a interactive and new way. It explores the modern, global wine culture as a cultural phenomenon. It marks the starting point of wine’s effort to become modern-that is, to represent itself through culture and media-by reaching toward contemporary architecture and design.  In becoming modern, it evolved and changed, similar to biological life, where evolution is essential as it refers to the past in creation of the new.

“The story begins in 1976, the year of the now-famous Judgment of Paris. There, in a blind taste test, nine French wine experts pronounced a number of northern California wines superior to esteemed French vintages. However apt the decision, later criticized and repeatedly restaged, the event released shock waves across the globe as it gave the nascent California wine industry, as well as winemakers in many other parts of the world, new confidence, credibility, and visibility. This, in turn, had multiple effects including the expansion of wine markets, growing popular awareness of wine, the birth of wine criticism, vineyard tourism, and a host of other manifestations. From this moment forward, the culture of wine began to accommodate and valorize new priorities such as innovation, diversification, globalization, marketing, and accessibility,” explained Urbach, the organizer. The exhibition was designed by New York-based architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and is organized as a suite of galleries. Visitors are greeted at the entrance by the sound of clinking wine glasses, which is triggered by a motion sensor. A newly commissioned work by Peter Wenger that charts more than 200 house paint colors named for wine hang on a wall nearby and call attention to the ways in which wine-related language and colors have made their way into everyday life. DS + R produced a life-size tableau accompanied by sound to provide viewers with a sense of the judge’s gestures and comments along with two winning bottles from the epochal event along with Time magazine’s original article on it. Further into the exhibition, there are installations on wine labels and brand identity, glassware, and connoisseurship and popular culture. Terroir is represented by seventeen global vineyards – using soil samples and data, along with climate date, featuring temperature and humidity in “real” time. Robert Gerard Pietrusko and Stewart Smith‘s Worldwide Wine video illustrates key shifts in the production and consumption of wine for the past 30 years. A gallery is devoted to the new, global, wine-related architecture, including wineries by Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, Steven Holl, Herzog + de Meuron, Renzo Piano, and Alvaro Siza. At the end there is the Smell Wall, a translucent wall with suspended flacons featuring selections by sommeliers and wine experts. In many different ways all around the world, wine has become modern as the wine industry has re-imagined its own forms of representation and joined itself to other forms of culture, including architecture, graphic and industrial design, the visual arts, the performing arts, and film. And it is here, in this densely layered zone between nature and culture, that the social meaning of wine has been connected to cultural debates of our times, including the status of place and authenticity in a world that is growing increasingly globalized and ever more structured by virtual experience.

 

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