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red gold & green Print
Written by Nikitas Magel   

The Golden Glass 2008 Wine Tasting Event

golden glass logoGreen.  The color of the moment, it's a philosophy that's all the rage right now.  Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few years — far from contact with the modernized, mechanized world that necessitated this new mindset to begin with — you're no doubt aware that 'living green' means doing so in a way that sustains or enhances the health of the natural environment.  As a movement, green principles are being applied to nearly every industry, not the least of which is food and wine.

And it's in that very domain that one organization, in particular, was established to perpetuate sustainability: Slow Food.  In its own words, this "association's activities seek to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread the education of taste, and link producers of excellent foods to consumers through events and initiatives."  The brainchild of Carlo Petrini over 20 years ago in Italy — seemingly eons before the concept of green living became mainstream — Slow Food took root in San Francisco soon thereafter (thanks to local founder Lorenzo Scarpone), establishing the first U.S. chapter in what's become a global movement towards eco-gastronomy that has gained considerable momentum.

Slow Food San Francisco organizes a number of events to showcase producers of natural foods and beverages who are dedicated to sustainability.  The Golden Glass is one such event that "highlight[s] over 100 international wineries, each with a compelling environmental, sustainable, and regional story to share."  I listened intently to a number of those stories during the nearly five hours I spent at the event.  Tasting over a hundred wines that afternoon — possible only by virtue of spitting everything — I preemptively minimized the assault on my palate with a decision to focus only on white wines (a suggestion by my tannin-phobic tasting partner).  It was a good call: constant contact with alcohol alone is enough of an onslaught on the tongue, making red wine tannins that much more fatiguing.  Thankfully, there was plenty of food — delectable culinary indulgences, really — provided by a sizable number of Bay Area purveyors (restaurants, artisanal producers, and farmers), which helped pace the wine-tasting experience and make it all the more enjoyable.  All the same, the inevitable palate fatigue did set in, by which time I'd been able to gather that the quality of the wines at hand spanned quite a range, from the lackluster to the sublime.  Be that as it may, the premise of the event as a whole is really less about the individual wines, per se, and more about the environmentally-sensitive philosophy and methodology underpinning their production.  And winery representatives overall were eager to share their knowledge of sustainable practices.

Although there was quite an international representation of producers, the overwhelming majority were from two countries.  Given the origin of its umbrella organization, it made every bit of sense that Italy would be heavily represented at this tasting event.  With its very long and venerable history of winemaking, and deep respect, almost reverence, for the richness, charm, and diversity of its landscapes, it stands to reason that this culture would initiate measures to protect its own natural resources.  Somewhat less expected was the event's second most widely represented winemaking region: New Zealand.  But as the afternoon wore on, I very quickly came to learn that in an effort to maintain the "clean, green image" stemming from their country's isolated location and agricultural economy, New Zealand's grapegrowers and winemakers have for some time now endeavored to protect the environmental integrity of their wine production. At the epicenter of this collective effort is the industry initiative of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand, whose mission is very similar and clearly resonates with that of Slow Food.  As it happens — that is, if I were forced to generalize about any subset of the wines poured at this year's Golden Glass — I felt it was the Italian and New Zealand wines in particular that demonstrated the most consistently high quality.  All the more impressive was that this level of quality was maintained in the context of sustainable viticulture.  It provides both illustration and inspiration that environmentalists and gastronomes can not only enjoy each other's company, but can effectively work together to produce something truly sensational.

For more information on The Golden Glass, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , whose painstaking management and meticulous oversight of the event ensured its resounding success.  Thanks to Renato and the entire Golden Glass Committee! end

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