Greetings from another time. I’m writing this two weeks before the US election, so who knows what state the world will be in when you read these pages and/or boil them to get nutrition from the vegetable dyes in the ink.

One thing is fairly certain, though. If the incumbent gets four more and/or 20 more years, it will likely mean the death of science in what we currently see as the civilised world. Or
as many people prefer to call it, the wine industry.

Not, I hasten to add, because winemakers’ brains will be turning to pulp or pét-nat. Rather because the building blocks of good wine – knowledge, experience, insight, clean hands – seem in so many other areas to be already on their way to the Trumpian trash heap.

And how can any creative endeavour survive without language? Particularly on its back labels? Few individuals in history have subjected our precious words to such a daily mangling of truth and meaning inside the beltway. And I say that assuming he does wear a belt.

One example. We’ve all encouraged friends to try a wine we thought was special via that all-purpose and until recently 95% credible descriptor: ‘great’. Not any more. One sentence (“My response to the pandemic has been great”) was all it took to reverse that word’s meaning forever. And I say that with sympathy to the country formerly known as ‘Great Britain’, and to the elderly uncle in my family now known as ‘Bullshit-Uncle Morris’.

Part of me is desperate to know how things are going as you open this mag, and part of me is scared to ask. Is Alaska being mined or merely planted with climate-change-resistant grape varieties? Has the Supreme Court outlawed photosynthesis or only in plants that regulate their own fertility? Is the White House still occupied by a promoter of conspiracy theories, or did the one conspiracy he completely missed – voters conspiring to vote him out of office – come to pass?

Either way, the bottle shock of the past four years will take a long time to dissipate, and if there are more years, dear winemakers, we’ll need you on the barricades as defenders of scientific truth and integrity.

Some notes to help with the fight. If you use a preservative, please leave the sulphur dioxide in the bottle. Injecting it straight into drinkers has not been trialled. Undocumented immigrants do not cause Brettanomyces. Red wine stains on white tablecloths don’t just go away, not even in Michigan.

It’s painfully ironic that one of history’s most relentless purveyors of scientific untruths owns a winery, albeit via a faceless corporate entity – or as some people prefer to call it, a son.

I’ll leave you to read the reviews of Trump wine for yourself. Not reviews by the owner – ideally – as most of his utterances on the topic don’t look so good when held up to the light in a clean glass.

But to be fair, there have been times when he’s wanted a single word to sum up his foray into wine and he’s chosen one with rare honesty. You’ve probably guessed it. It begins with G. Well, B actually.