Ξ January 28th, 2008 | → 7 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Wine News |
I have enjoyed the wines of M. Chapoutier for many years. But I have never understood the odd raised bumps on the labels until a serendipitous find on the internet: they compose, in fact, a Braille text giving the sight-impared information as to winemaker, appellation, the name of the wine, vintage, and whether red or white. M. Chapoutier has been labelling bottles in Braille since 1996. And as written on his well-designed web page “Far from being anecdotic, this symbol draws its origin from the very history of the Hermitage vineyard.
Maurice Monier de La Sizeranne, owner of the plot of the Hermitage, la Sizeranne, is also the inventor of the first version of abbreviated Braille. The trademark pays tribute to this man but also expresses the desire to reach out to and include all people with sight-impairments, lovers of good wines.”
I have never before reflected on how great must be the effrontery to the independence of 10 million blind and vision-impaired Americans alone caused by the absence of Braille labels not only on wine bottles but on virtually all consumables, commodities generally. I cannot remember having ever seen a sight-impaired soul in a wine store. Are Braille tasting notes published? And Braille wine books? James Halliday writes in his Wines of Australia a gloss on Mount Eyre Vineyard, and of their blind winemaker, C.P. Lin, he says, “…he has also translated The Oxford Companion to Wine into Braille”(!) One question follows upon another….The short of it: I think Chapoutier’s idea is a good one.
Other wineries and label companies have since followed, but very slowly. The Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin now provide Braille labels. 2004 saw the arrival of Braille labels on bottles from the South African organic producer Bon Cap. In 2005 an Irish label company, Designerwine stepped up. As did the Czech wine producer Galant in 2006. And in a new development, Pyrotech has begun producing wine bottles in Braille.
My list is by no means complete. There are at least a dozen other small wineries around the world using Braille labels, all wineries with a very modest ‘international’ profile to be sure, but which nevertheless strive to bring a greater independence to the lives of the sight-impaired. Larger wineries should make the effort, too. Wine is the most social, civilized of drinks. It is only right that everyone have a seat at the table.