From a restricted view in the cheap seats, it has always seemed to me that diplomatic relations between countries of the world could be improved if wine was enjoyed after or perhaps during discussions. So I was delighted to hear that Barack Obama enjoyed a glass from time to time and might replenish the inadequate White House cellar.
George W Bush, of course, became teetotal. To the despair of the French, Jacques Chirac preferred beer, and Nicolas Sarkozy apparently gets overexcited if he drinks wine, so he abstains. So much of the world is puzzlingly forbidden by its religion nowadays to touch alcohol (it was not always so) that good wine is given little chance to play its civilising role in encouraging good relations between national leaders. Naturally, I believe the world would be a less aggressive, more understanding place if it did.
A great many of you recently have been buying some of the outstanding 2007 Rhône wines, where the syrah grape plays a lead role. The Rhône is, by a long way, France’s oldest wineproducing region. The syrah grape or at least its name most probably came from around Shiraz, today the capital of the state of Fars in Iran, and once its wine-growing centre.
Records mentioning wine and vintners have been found at Persepolis, which dates to 518BC. It has taken the British Museum to remind us that Persia/Iran is one of the cradles of civilisation which has given so much to the world. All world leaders should be made to visit its exhibition and discuss how to better the world over a glass of shiraz.
Sebastian Payne MW
Chief Wine Buyer