A week ago, I was ‘accused’ of being ‘traditional’. It irked me. What’s wrong with tradition? Tradition is defined as the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. Where would we be without tradition? Perhaps it is the fact that a great deal of traditions are led by religious beliefs, but this person derided its very existence in a manner that has stuck with me ever since. Whether it’s on a personal or global level traditions lend a level of consistency and security to our lives. A framework of diverging threads that guide us through our lives. Covid-19 is attacking these traditions, shredding our familial gatherings, opportunities and everyday life. Our current daily state of disarray stems from the Corona disruption of our routines, which are shaped by our deep seated and comforting traditions that live in our subconcious minds.
The wine trade is steeped in tradition. Despite some member’s protestations wine is hugely traditional, starting off as medicine and then slowly became integrated into our daily lives as a drink to enjoy at mealtimes and now it seems anytime! More recent associations involve specific categories of wines.
  • Champagne is traditionally used to celebrate special occasions.
  • Vintage dated wines with a decent ageing capacity are traditionally used as a gift to children for christenings or important birthdays.
  • Rose is drunk in the sunshine’
  • Bordeaux is traditionally drunk with your Christmas Turkey.
  • Sauternes and desert, Port and cheese, Sherry and tapas – all traditions
  • Orange wine is amongst the most traditional of wine sectors, stemming from kvervri (amphora) aged Georgian wines of centuries gone by. (Sorry if you thought you were cutting edge guys).

Remove the rules completely, erase the associations with past events and happy memories.
Traditions are different all over the world. Here are some of the more exceptional traditions. Can’t think why they don’t catch on outside their countries of origin!
  • In Poland they have Smigus-dyngus (wet Monday). Held on Easter Monday every year, participants have the ultimate water fight to celebrate Easter.
  • Finger wrestling has for years been a seriously competitive sector in the random sports category of the Alps.
  • Every Spring Bank Holiday (save this one). an annual Cheese Rolling and Wake take place near the town of Gloucester in the UK.
  • In Finland they hold Wife-Carrying championships every year. The prize is dependent on the wife’s weight in beer!
  • People travel from around the World to join in La Tomatina (tomato craze) in Bunol, Spain. Every last Wednesday of August sees a huge tomato fight take place in this town.
  • On the more obscure side, the first Sunday of April sees thousands of people take part in the Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki, Japan. Kanamara Matsuri roughly translates to penis festival. The parades involve giant penis’ to celebrate the Shinto fertility tradition. It is, in Japan considered a serious religious ritual.

On a personal front, yes, I am traditional, our family is traditional. Our lives revolve around family gatherings, food and wine. These occasions are marked by traditions that have been passed down from our older relatives. Easter is always spring lamb and wine is generally Burgundy (well it needs to be lighter). Christmas sees smoked salmon and Chablis, turkey and older Bordeaux and some Champagne. We always have Sunday lunch, it’s an excuse to relax and spend time together, recently there’s been a big hole here thanks to the lock-down. Zoom just doesn’t quite cut it when it comes to getting immediate family over for this Sunday ritual.

It’s in these times of turmoil, when uncertainty and darkness loom on the horizon, that traditions hold us firm. They offer a blanket of security and consistency. I can’t imagine how it must feel to go seven days without the punctuation of a sizzling roasted joint of meat, killer potatoes and the luxury of a decent bottle over lunch. Especially now, while we’re adjusting to new ways, less structured days and the impossibility of this phase.

*If you would like to pour a warm blanket of tradition into your glass, here are some of my suggestions that upon first sip will fill you with feelings of security, joy and relaxation. The first three have informational videos you can click into as your try your first glass.