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Wine As Cultural Heritage

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Preserving and Promoting Traditional Wine-making Practices

Wine has a very important role in human history and culture. Moreover, wine-making has exceeded both geographical boundaries and time. Wine has a very important drink that exceeds its role as an alcoholic drink; thus, its more about tradition, history, and the identity of a particular region. For this reason, UNESCO has tried to protect and promote traditional wine-making practices as intangible cultural heritage.

This article will particularly examine the meaning, efforts, and challenges of UNESCO recognition, specifically how it serves as a demonstration towards both wine-making practices and the need to preserve its diverse cultural expression.

Wine as Intangible Cultural Heritage

The way UNESCO has classified and recognized wine as an intangible cultural heritage shows its significance as a dynamic cultural practice. According to UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage includes “the practices, representations, knowledge, skills, and instruments that communities acknowledge’ as integral to their cultural heritage. UNESCOS wine recognition includes acknowledging the significance of wine-making techniques, rituals, and social customs related to wine production.

Efforts to Preserving Traditional Wine-making Practices

It is very vital to use effort to preserve wine-making practices. These efforts not only exemplify a specific region’s distinct historical heritage but also because they play a significant role in its (that region and wine itself) economic and social advancement. The efforts represent the accrued knowledge and skills transferred from generation to generation, often rooted in centuries-old wisdom and their ecological context. 

Below are four (4) significant efforts toward preserving traditional wine-making practices:

1. Formal Recognition of Wine Diet

The inclusion of the Mediterranean diet and wine-making on the UNESCO representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity is the first step towards preserving traditional wine-making practices. The recognition alone emphasizes the all-inclusive perspective on wine culture, wines’ relationship with food, and traditions. For instance, the Mediterranean diet promotes sustainable agriculture and healthy eating habits. Furthermore, Mediterranean diets promote pleasantness since the diets focus on fresh ingredients, seasonal produce, and moderate wine consumption.

2. Formal Recognition of Wine-making Methods

 This step extends beyond the Mediterranean region. Notably, many wine-making regions globally have partnered with UNESCO and other organizations to safeguard the region’s distinct wine-making traditions. For instance, in 2019, the traditional “Qvevri wine-making method” from Georgia was added to UNESCO Representative List. (This traditional wine-making process involves the fermentation and maturation of wine in sizable subterranean clay containers.) Therefore, such a formal recognition will promote the “Qvevri wine-making method” to the world. Thus, safeguarding all traditional wine-making practices and supporting the local communities is vital. 

3. Efforts by Various Initiatives and Organizations

In addition to UNESCO Recognition, several initiatives and organizations have dedicated their effort and time to promoting and celebrating traditional wine-making practices. Notably, it is evidenced that there are always several wine festivals, cultural events, and educational programs in the regions where wine-making happens. These events facilitate the gathering of winemakers, researchers, and wine enthusiasts and promote the exchange of knowledge and dialogue.

Furthermore, these festivals and meetings do not skip in favor of an appreciation of diverse wine-making cultures. Therefore, this effort ensures an increase in awareness of various wine-making traditions and helps in the economic growth of wine regions.

FACT #1: Did you know that Georgia is known as the “Cradle of Wine”?

Georgia is called “cradle of wine” because of 6,000 BC first world know wine creation.An 8,000-year-old winemaking tradition, which is practiced even today. Visit the region and discover the rich heritage of Georgian wine. Don’t forget to explore the fascinating stories behind its special winemaking practices.

4. Environmental Sustainability

Another step in Preserving and promoting traditional wine-making practices is supporting environmental sustainability. Notably, traditional wine-making methods emphasize organic farming, biodiversity conservation, and preservation of native grape varieties. Therefore, prioritizing the local resources and recognized practices have typically reduced ecological impact compared to modernized industrialized alcohol-making methods.

Furthermore, terroir-based methods play a very important role in the preservation of ecological equilibrium and in protecting the cultural landscape. This is due to the fact that the method involves tailored techniques that suits specific local conditions.

Challenges to Preserving Traditional wine-making Practices

UNESCO’s classification of wine as an intangible cultural heritage is a significant milestone. However, there are obstacles to safeguarding these conventional wine-making methods. These challenges include; climate change, urbanization, and globalization. These challenges make it hard to preserve the traditions despite several efforts. Therefore, they pose several risks to wine regions’ cultural and environmental diversity. Thus, collaboration among Governments, communities, and international organizations is vital to combat these challenges.

That drink, wine is a symbol of global cultural heritage, traditions, and community identity. UNESCO has recognized wine as an intangible cultural heritage emphasizes the significance of safeguarding and promoting traditional wine-making processes. This is a reminder that preserving regions’ history and cultural diversity ensures several benefits, including promoting economic development and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Let’s toast to the 8,000-year discovery that keeps people together today!

Want to read more? Try these books!

Wine and Culture- Vineyard to Glass Crush- The Triumph of California Wine

References and Citations

  1. https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/silk-road-themes/intangible-cultural-heritage/ancient-georgian-traditional-qvevri-wine-making
  2. https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/ancient-georgian-traditional-qvevri-wine-making-method-00870
  3. https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/mediterranean-diet-00884
  4. https://ich.unesco.org/en/what-is-intangible-heritage-00003
  5. https://mediterraneandietunesco.org/about/history-of-the-mediterranean-diet/
  6. https://winiveria.ge/en/georgian-winemaking-history-the-cradle-of-wine%EF%BF%BC/
  7. https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/georgian-winemaking-method-joins-unesco-heritage-list-30889/
  8. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/sponsor-content-secret-birthplace-of-wine
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