How Wine Became Modern, SFMOMA's new exhibit on visual and design evolution in the wine world, is a fascinating look at both the aesthetics and processes of modern American winemaking, tracing the grape's influence on culture. The exhibit covers 34 years, from the 1976 Judgment of Paris (in which California vintages beat French ones in a blind tasting) to the present, using the era as a frame through which to view design improvements to viticulture and enology.
Separate installations include a demonstration on the effects of oak on wine, a "smell wall" with aroma components of the 1976 Penfolds Grange Hermitage (noteworthy for achieving a perfect score from wine critic Robert Parker) teased out and synthesized by scent artist Sissel Tolaas, and displays of both winery and label design. So many aspects of wine are covered, except ― due to legal restrictions ― the only thing you never get to experience is taste.
Thankfully, the nearby Press Club wine bar is offering a free taste of any of the wines from the exhibit's six resident wineries when you present your SFMOMA ticket stub. Nothing better than spending the day looking at art, then going out and drinking it.
How Wine Became Modern: SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000. Runs through Apr. 17, 2011.
Press Club: 20 Yerba Buena (at Market), 415-744-5000.