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[Opinion] Because of Grapes

Posted November. 16, 2003 23:00,   


The cultivation of grapes started from the Mesopotamian region, and from around 6000 B.C. the grapes were brewed into wine. When the custom of drinking wine was passed to the neighboring country of Egypt, its upper class drank wine while the peasants drank beer in general. In particular, the absolute rulers, the Pharaohs, stored a wine jar in their tombs as if they had hoped that by drinking wine, they could ease their pain during the trip to the afterlife. Greek Historian Thucydides of 5th Century B.C. recorded, "The people of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learnt to cultivate the olive and the vine,” and it clearly shows the relationship between Western culture and wine.

In the modern period, France led the production and consumption of wine. It is said that Napoleon (1769—1821), who drove all of Europe into war, boasted, “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat, one needs it.” Germany, Italia, Spain, Portugal are also famous wine producers. North and South America, including the United States and Chile, and Australia, where many Europeans settled, recently became good wine producers. Grapes cultivation was transferred to China, alongside the Silk Road and through the empire in Central Asia. You can see shacks drying grapes, while traveling Dunhuang and Trupan around Takla Makan Desert, Xinjiang,

Wine-drinking was introduced to Korea when “Majuan” became popular among people. At that time, Korea was about to barely get over the hump of a severe food shortage with the success of its economic development. Recently, red wine is creating a great sensation among people with money, empowered by the “French Paradox.” “French Paradox” was a term first used by the Americans because the French had a lower rate of heart attack, even when they ate more red meat and smoked heavier than the Americans. The medial society interpreted that the secret of this paradox lied in the red wine consumption of the French. Latecomers in the wine market are showing a more pronounced love toward wine. Overnight millionaires of the East, including the Japanese, who swept the best-quality whiskey market, are also standing out in the wine market. Korea is not an exception. A few days ago, a news clip attracted people’s attention when it was reported that the two domestic airlines embarked on an emergency transportation of 3.5 million bottles of French Beaujolais Nouveau to Korea and Japan by leasing eleven cargo planes. The airlines are full of joy due to the handsome transportation earnings, however, the consumption pattern of the people poses a big concern. Beaujolais Nouveau, which tastes like fresh wine in a good way, and frankly speaking, tastes more like Korean makkoli, a raw rice wine, is the favorite of young salaried men. It seemed that there are quite a few credit defaulters among them, whose credit payment is in arrears. The Free Trade Agreement between Korea and Chile is in trouble because of grapes. Why don’t we reduce the consumption of Beaujolais Nouveau and drink Chilean wine instead?

Kim Pyung-ju, Editorialist, Professor of Sogang University