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Wine and Globalisation: foreword

Chantal Crenn, Marion Demossier and Isabelle Techoueyres

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1Over the past few months, the debate surrounding the films Mondovino and Sideways has helped to illustrate the tensions related to the globalisation of the wine industry and the so-called rivalry between the New World and Old Europe, between brand names and terroir, modernity and tradition, as many concepts masking the complexity of the process. The term “globalization”, widely used in the media, needs to be treated cautiously. In common parlance, the term designates various phenomena such as market economy, world governance and cultural delocalization. On a theoretical level, globalisation accelerates the movement towards cultural convergence. In the wine sector and the anthropology of food, globalisation is defined by the increasing circulation of money, goods, services, persons, ideas as well as cultural productions. To this are associated the globalization of exchanges, of world visions, of problems and solutions sought after by human societies. Therefore does globalisation lead to the emergence of specific and distinct cultures defined in essentialist terms or do they induce the renewal of cultural convictions? Both processes of dissolution and reification seem to go together and the example of wine illustrates this double tendency. Other questions can be raised from the way in which globalisation influences local strategies of resistance and the political use of cultural specificity.

2All these questions are at the core of the analysis offered by the authors of this special issue. For instance the matter of wine making and wine production (wine brands/technologies/terroir wines articulation) with the questioning by producers as well as consumers and public institutions of such notions as ancestral, traditional and local wines, and by wines of the New World (expression which also needs to be discussed) are discussed by various contributors. Finally a further dimension is provided by the global regulating space, made of transnational relations and changing scales in which producers and wine producing societies operate today. Localisation and glocalization (the reinforcement of local production and consumption modes) are part of such questioning. Consumption and globalization of products as well as problems attached to their consumption (health and prevention concerning alcohol consumption) are also part of the analysis. The globalization of wine is pertinent as an object enabling us to question phenomena whose consequences are relevant in the economic, political and cultural spheres.

3The articles presented here explore different aspects of globalisation, which finds its roots in a long historical process (Ferland, Hinnewinkel and Jacquet), in a comparative context (Kjellgren and Wilson) and in local or national socio-economic processes (Corbeau, Crenn and Téchoueyres). The importance of the international market in the consumption of some products such as wine is a major factor for transformation and innovation. Yet some authors (Crenn and Téchoueyres) insist on the “harnessing” of the image of “terroir product” by the agro-industry and show how those who achieved a degree of economic success a few years back (adopting mechanisation, synthetic fertilizers, etc…) are now being left out. Participation in the creation of ‘meta-tradition’ made necessary by the dominant ultra-liberal economic model-especially in France where it is very regulated-still depends on the economic and symbolic resources of the different actors as discussed in some of the articles.

4What stands out from these various analyses is the amazing complexity of the processes set up in order to adapt to globalisation, or block it, or transform it as a local resource, or use it for national political ends. The Wine sphere is now facing new challenges and the near future will enable observers to examine with relevance this “total object” which is wine as a vector of civilization.

5We thank here both authors and anonymous readers for their involvement in the preparation of this issue.

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Electronic reference

Chantal Crenn, Marion Demossier and Isabelle Techoueyres, “Wine and Globalisation: foreword”Anthropology of food [Online], 3 | December 2004, Online since 01 December 2004, connection on 25 July 2024. URL:; DOI:

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About the authors

Chantal Crenn

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Marion Demossier

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Isabelle Techoueyres

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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