surinenglish

Intruders

A well-known Spanish wine critic recently explained that anyone without technical qualifications involved in the wine trade is an 'intruder' (in Spanish 'intruso').

The English word does not exist in the context he uses. Nevertheless, he alleges that one of the greatest vulnerabilities of the trade is that many bodega owners, enologists, and sommeliers have no technical qualifications, thus making them intrusos. Even Spain's greatest winemakers should not be referred to as enologists unless they are technically qualified, he suggests.

If we mention to an Australian or Californian winemaker that Spanish bodegas are limited to what grapes they can grow by the regional Regulatory Commission, the reaction is an amazed, "You mean they cannot plant the grapes they choose to make their wine?" In the majority of countries there are no such controls on winemakers.

So why are the Spanish - and French and Germans - so enthusiastic about maintaining endless rules and regulations? It can only be to reduce the competition.

If every bodega must have a qualified winemaker and every restaurant a certified sommelier, clearly this keeps the applicants for each job to a level where there are no unemployed professionals.

Forget about your favourite self-taught sommelier who has been 40 years at his job, or the winemaker who grows vines on a corner of his farm and makes delicious wine.

If the rule-makers have their way, these artisans will disappear as a consequence of the controls that every day appear to be taking over our lives.

If such ridiculous measures as those suggested become obligatory, can we expect to see producers of hams, honey, foie gras, cheese or marmalade unable to do their work unless they have diplomas?