I’m a little fed up here. Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve more regularly taken note of when I hear wine brought up in my day to day life. A lot of times, it’s a friend recommending a certain wine to me, or more often than not, it’s me recommending a certain wine to a friend. But all too often, it is the fact that there are negative connotations surrounding wine, nearly all of which I experience as part of the US wine culture.
What drove me over the edge was an email I received today from Google. I started this blog with the hopes of finding my way into the wine industry to pursue my passion, and I thought today, after having blogged for a month now and spending too much money on wine just to write about it, maybe I’ll try out this AdSense thing. It would require no effort on my part, and it would be good to get some more pocket money to continue purchasing new wines to write about. But, DeVine Inspiration is not allowed to have such advertisements because, I quote:
“Drugs, drug paraphernalia, alcohol, beer or tobacco: Google believes strongly in the freedom of expression and offers broad access to content across the web without censoring search results. However, Google policy does not permit the placement of Google ads on sites promoting illicit drugs, prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia, sales of hard alcohol, tobacco, or tobacco-related products. We’ve found that your site contains content of this nature “
First of all, why does beer get a separate category and wine doesn’t? Secondly, it’s frustrating being lumped into this category. The email got even worse when it went on to say, “Please remove all drug-related content from your site, then resubmit your application by following the directions below.”
So now we’re not even pretending like featuring wine is any different from featuring an illicit substance. According to Google, I write about drugs. And yes, alcohol is a drug, but just like the failure of our War on Drugs, sheltering society from something does not make it go away. So I ask, is what I write really that harmful to my readers? Should “family audiences” be shielded from my words and told that all wine is bad? At least until you’re 21 of course.
It doesn’t make sense. I understand that this was probably an automatic response in which a computer found my keywords and “noped’ on out of the possibility of advertising through my site, but it is still frustrating, not because I can’t advertise, but because this is a larger representation of our society’s attitudes towards wine. And if this was an automatic response, what if I was talking about the dangers of alcohol? Would the automated robot be able to differentiate between the two?
In all honesty, although Google finds that my content is unsuitable for younger readers, I would hope that young readers actually do find my page. Not because I want them to be alcohol addicted youths, but because I feel that the way I portray wine shows it to be most enjoyable when enjoyed responsibly. A young adult that is under 21, but most likely already drinking, can see the pathway into a meaningful relationship with wine rather than an attempt at drinking themselves silly at the next party this weekend.
I encounter this type of attitude against drinking every day, especially since I am the student of a university with a dry campus. Or so they say. You see, the University of Tennessee only chooses to be a dry campus when it is convenient for them, meaning that they want to appease the conservative donors and worried helicopter-parents, but also the season ticket holders in the Skybox. Yes, they serve alcohol in the Skybox, and as I learned through an undergraduate law class, UTK allows alcoholic beverages at special events in specific locations throughout campus. But wait, you’re a 22 year old senior living in Vol Hall? No wine for you!
The geology department just had its latest encounter with the ridiculous rules regarding alcohol at the beginning of the semester. Our kick-off event for the school year is usually held at our department head’s home. Alcohol is obviously allowed since the event is not on campus and is generally attended by the faculty and graduate students. This year however, pressure was pushed on our department by the dean to no longer host such an event off campus because it “encouraged” the consumption of alcohol. I mean come on. Are we really trying to tell tenured professors what they can and can’t drink? Wine and other alcoholic beverages have been the cornerstones of social gatherings ever since Socrates’ symposium, which literally means, “drinking together.”
I look at other cultures and can only find faults in our logic. Just as the lack of sex education causes higher teen pregnancy rates, a lack of acceptance of alcohol can cause higher rates of dangerous binge drinking, and possibly alcoholism as a result. I’m still a college student, and I have been to my share of house parties where the entire goal of the evening is to get drunk. We drink PBR because it’s decent for the cheapest beer around, and it’s light. Have you ever wondered why light beer is so popular in the US? It’s because it’s easy to drink copious amounts of it. Just go to a frat party and see what they’re serving. It won’t be Fat Tire I’ll tell you that.
My most memorable experience in Italy was going out with the ERASMUS students for the night. I’ll admit we stocked up on a carton of wine for later, but what we did before will never escape my memory. We went to a Carrefour, the kwiki-mart of Italy, to buy, get this, salad and cheese. We all pitched in and our host provided the wine for the evening. It was red, but I have no clue where it was from, or even anything in particular about it. We prepared dinner together and ate and talked and enjoyed our nameless wine. I remember thinking that there was no way you would find such an occasion back in Knoxville.
But why not? I was rudely awakened this past weekend when I ventured onto “the Strip” for my bestfriend’s 22nd birthday. The Strip is a line of bars that is frequented by many UT students on weekends. I hadn’t realized until last Friday that in all my time at UT, I had never actually spent a weekend out on the Strip besides for very rare occasions after the football games I used to attend my freshman year. Talk about culture shock. Dozens of cops lined the streets waiting to prey on the drunken youth that were consuming the cheapest booze they could find. Even my own friends were sneaking in travel sized bottles of liquor to pour into their suspicious orders of cranberry juice. I was somewhat excited to be the DD for the night just to be able to observe this bizarre college ritual.
Yes, this is a rant. I am indeed ranting, but with justified reasons. If I were a man, I would be able to give my life for this country before even legally ingesting a glass of wine. It’s deprivation. The lack of understanding of the art and beauty of a good glass of wine makes for my own lack of understanding surrounding the liquor laws of the US. It is illegal to purchase a corkscrew in the same place you buy a bottle of wine (at least in TN). Our society wants you to buy it, but it certainly doesn’t want you to drink it!
What this all comes down to is that I want to be able drink my wine and not feel any scorn from the society that surrounds me. I want people to understand wine as an art form, not a mode of getting drunk. Yeah, wine does get you drunk, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I don’t want that to be the only reason we drink it. If that really were the only reason I loved wine, Franzia would be featured at my table every night. Please, don’t allow that to happen, our culture and taste buds can’t take it anymore.