Text João Barbosa | Translation Bruno Ferreira
It seems that not a day goes by without the Portuguese gastronomy being news subject, positively, whether referring to food or wine – mainly the drink. In the view of this, how do I feel like being Portuguese? I don’t know and the reason is because I don’t know whether to attribute this to fashion or justice.
Those reading will say:
– How do you not know? You ought to know. If you write about wine it is mandatory for you to know.
True! But there is always a parallax error, the result of affection and memory. The subjectivity that dictates that the mother’s food is the best in the world or that the Portuguese national team deserves, right from the first game, to win the football championship.
I’m not a fanatic, but my roots are in Portugal. Of course I think the highlight that the country is having on gastronomy has more of justice than fashion. There is certainly evaluation error, although hopefully reduced.
Being fashionable is good! It cheers up, provides self-esteem, gives notoriety. However, it’s something passenger. If something is always in fashion it’s because it’s not about fashion, instead it means quality in abundance.
Fashion is cyclical and the quality is structural. So, those inspired by recognition just have to keep insisting in the search of quality differentiation. In this way it will get an increased value.
That’s why I do not like to hear that saying something has a good relationship between price and quality. I do not see that as something praising, although the majority of people consider that that means a good opportunity or justice.
Paying ten cents for a hectoliter is a good relationship between quality and price? IT IS! It is because, regardless of quality, anyone who takes the opportunity will make money with it. But that does not mean the wine has quality… of course not. The problem is that the premise isn’t that, but a balance between one thing and the other.
I want Portuguese wine to get the reputation of the French or Italian wine – just to cite two examples. Producing well is within reach of those who engage, and getting it done cheap is within reach of those who get afflicted workers.
Obviously, expensive does not mean quality. Moreover, no one likes to feel stupid, so paying 50 euros per 0.75 liters of swill will be a once in a lifetime episode. Justice is at the point where a product is sold at the same price that another with comparable quality.
Having a “good relationship between quality and price” can helpful initially and relieve pressure on the treasury. In the medium term it becomes unfair. If I still haven’t convinced the reader, I have the ultimate argument:
Portugal turnovers more with fruit and vegetables than with wine. This means that the added value (VAT) is not paid fairly. Generalizing and assuming that the cost of land is comparable and that the factors of production are comparable, it’s way more profitable to make sprouts than wine. There are no expenses with the oenology or with longer storage and the tied in capital is much smaller.
Back to the beginning, Portuguese wine has been recognized and in various ways. Of all the news, I value those that do not address the price factor. I refer to the critic’s assessments, with qualitative scores only, or to victories in prestigious competitions.
People will say that great wines, those that cost about the same as a small car of the city, do not enter the competition, so the victories are relative. Of course, those who have something to lose do not go into play. The new arrivals are the ones that must show worthiness. Young riders challenge the great lords.
It is said that “he who sings scares away his woes”, but the music has been rough to the Portuguese. In 48 editions of Eurovision Festival, in which Portugal failed only four editions, Portuguese musicians never managed to go beyond the sixth place – Lúcia Moniz in 1996 with “O meu coração não tem cor” (My heart has no color).
The fault lies with the dictatorship, but the young democracy was not awarded. Because Portugal buys few television programs, but other small countries buy the same and have won. Because the Portuguese language is difficult, but Brazil is a musical superpower … almost anything goes to justify the defeats.
While the Portuguese music doesn’t win the Eurovision Festival and the lusophone literature does not reach the more than fair second Nobel Prize, the wine gives us encouragement, soothing the sorrows.
Let the lasting recognition come. And I’m almost certain that when the Portuguese winemakers manage to solidify the reputation, the gastronomy (some signs are already emerging) will become ‘mandatory’, which will take critics of the red book – not the one of the Maoism, but the one of the tires – to post stars in houses that have earned the right to bear them for many years now.