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“There is nothing inherently wrong with minimalism,” she writes in a recent post on Instagram, “but it’s essential to understand how aesthetic trends are always in discussion with social structures. and also note when aesthetics are being used to push harmful biases. Minimalism is an aesthetic and it is also a lifestyle and if you aren’t careful you can end up perpetuating biases about poor and racialized people.”
In my view, there is no eno-focused writer today who is addressing the epistemological implications of wine culture with such unbridled perspicacity and clarity of voice.
Her post yesterday (above) is one in a series where she parses some of the thornier nuances of the contemporary natural wine world. Along the way, she draws from a broad spectrum of critical theorists, some of whom will surely surprise even the informed student of 20th century thought.
I’m certainly not the first to note the power of her voice. She’s been featured in countless who’s who lists by prominent wine-centered mastheads.
Those publications, at least as far as I can find, tend to focus on her utterly vital inner- and extra-industry activism. There is no question that her community work has had an outsized and welcomed impact.
But what intrigues me most about her writing is that she approaches the subject as a critical theorist. She is a Roland Barthes of our wine time, a writer who dissects the aesthetics — the ars poetica — of contemporary wine culture with acumen and deep insight. She is also a Noam Chomsky in her ability to see behind what Nietzsche would have called the “sacred texts” of wine, the cultural hegemony (to borrow from Gramsci) that continues to drive what she calls the “moralized consumption” of wine (and other lifestyle products).
I know those are big shoes to fill but fill them she does… and then some.
She also possesses a preternatural ability to ferment her observations into approachable, highly drinkable language. In a wine writing world where the register of language and the hermetic argot are often used in an exclusionary capacity (she address this trend as well), she seamlessly renders her thought into palatable demotic language digestible by all. It’s a glorious, beautiful balancing act that delivers spectacular results in widening the horizons of lay people and trade members alike.
Can you tell that I am entirely absorbed by her writing? I’m a little late to the game but am glad to be here. And thanks to Tracie for hipping me to her feed.
Ashtin Berry is one of the greatest wine writers of our generation. Read her.