It doesn’t matter how much you know through practical experience; we do need literacy to ensure a way of sharing our knowledge or to obtain a recognised qualification in our field. 8 September is international literacy day and it made me think about the wealth of wine literature that we might neglect while practicing our tasting skills. But then I realised we are neglecting more! By not making time to read, we are not investing in ourselves as we should.
At a recent get-together with wine colleagues, we were asked to share our biggest challenge at work. While not everyone spelled it out as lack of time, the majority’s biggest challenge, regardless of the way they put it, was exactly that – not having enough time. Between work and family and trying to take care of our own wellbeing, reading has taken a backseat. Isn’t that a shame? Sure, we get our information in many other ways nowadays, so not spending time with a book or magazine, doesn’t mean you are uninformed, but it sure means you are poorer.
In South Africa we struggle with many things, but it seems we are on the right track when it comes to literacy. According to a Statista study compiled between 2018 and 2020, South Africa is ranked at number two when it comes to literacy rates in Africa. In 2020, South Africa’s literacy rate was at 95%. (The adult literacy rate is the share of people aged 15 years and older who can read, write, and understand a short simple statement about their everyday life.) Part of the success might be the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign that government launched in 2008, aimed at halving the country’s then illiteracy rates by 2015.
Now we just need time (and light) to read! Choose something that interests you and schedule it in your calendar if you have to. Other than helping you to gain knowledge, reading exercises your brain and improves your focus, memory and mental health. Reading is also said to improve your communication skills and ability to empathize – we can all do with that, can’t we?! And eventually, reading brings enjoyment, reduces stress and makes you live longer. Goodness, it seems buying all those supplements was unnecessary! (Read more)
What would you read if your interest is wine?
If wine interests you, you will be impressed by the reading room in Bordeaux’s La Cité du Vin. It gives a wonderful overview of wine literature through historical, artistic and anthropological works on the world of wine. This magnificent museum invites you to enjoy the writers, scientists, manga and even comic book heroes who “make up the history and current affairs of the world of wine today.” (Read more) The collection of around 1900 books and magazines is available in 22 different languages and covers subjects such as history, geography, tasting, literature and vineyards.
If you are ever fortunate enough to visit Bordeaux and its famous wine experience, then take an hour to sit in its reading room and read. Does that not sound like the greatest luxury? Some of the joy will be in the variety of reading options, but I must say, some of the joy might just be in taking the time.
But of course, you don’t have to travel to France to get your wine literature fix. Wine magazines used to be popular, but today, like most print publications, they are struggling. Social media snippets are easier to digest, targeted through algorithms to suit your interest and surrounded by other content you might enjoy. The idea of a dedicated wine magazine appeals to me and my colleagues, but even we, who are interested in the detail and technicalities, don’t have time to make the most of the content. And perhaps that is why lifestyle orientated publications with a little wine information alongside food and travel and décor have a better chance of survival.
But if we take the popular scapegoat, time, out of the equation, you’ll find some exceptional wine publications to read. Have a look at our list below. Pick one that suits your fancy. Preferably not one that will only look pretty or impressive on a coffee table or bookshelf. Then make time to read it. Seems it will do much more for you than sharpen your knowledge and appreciation of wine!
Recommended Wine Literature to consider: