When the first desperate, thirsty humans discovered fermented grape juice, a god was born.

He was a dangerous god: Dionysus to the Greeks, Bacchus to the Romans. As well as wine and the vine, he represented festivity, fertility, frenzy and insanity.

Standing in front of the orderly shelves of a modern wine retailer, one can feel very far from Dionysus and much closer to his civilised brother, Apollo, the god of moderation and rationality.

You can’t have one without the other, but in a world increasingly incapable of seeing shades of grey, it is becoming harder to accept that alcohol is both disorderly and civilising, helping to connect people in a lonely world, and dangerous and open to misuse, with risks to match its rewards.

As Felicity Carter has revealed in her article, published in Wine Business Monthly, How Neo-Prohibitionists Came to Shape Alcohol Policy, well-funded religious and temperance groups are exerting a strong influence on global alcohol policy through the World Health Organization. These groups believe that alcohol is morally bad and their ultimate goal is to see it banned.

This has brought us to a dangerous point. Wine is alcohol, and alcohol is being targeted, like tobacco was several decades ago. We are perhaps a few years away from mandatory health warnings on labels and maybe a decade away from plain packaging, but these are both firmly on the agenda of the anti-alcohol lobbyists.

Much of the current discussion is focused on whether or not wine is healthy or unhealthy. But even with evidence that moderate drinking has health benefits, debating the science isn’t going to break through to wine drinkers spooked by these claims or, more importantly, those who don’t yet drink at all.

There is hope. Wine, in particular, may offer all who work with alcohol a glimpse of a different approach. One of wine’s great successes, more than beer or spirits, has been to make itself aspirational, not in a bourgeois way, but intellectually and emotionally.

We need wines with something fresh and engaging to say, something people want to listen to. Picking up a bottle in a wine store has to feel like buying a book in a great bookshop. Who knows when you’re going to read it, or even if you’re going to read it? The point is that there’s something in there that you want, not just acquisitively, but on a deeper level.

It’s not quite that simple. There’s too much wine in the world — witness Bordeaux’s €57 million vine-pulling scheme. Overproduction of basic wine isn’t doing us any favours.

Every humdrum wine, the sort that just gets the job done, brings wine down to the level of mere alcohol.

These wines, and their wine-based cousins, are a gift to those who see it in the same category as mass-market lager and they weaken claims of wine’s cultural significance.

As we enter an increasingly hostile era, everyone who imports, sells or writes about wine must ask themselves: which wines evoke the beauty of Apollo and the thrill of Dionysus? Those are the wines that will win the culture war for us. If we can’t capture and communicate the excitement and value of high-quality wine to a new generation that’s being bombarded with anti-alcohol messaging, we’ll know why and where we failed.

For all the finger-pointing at Gen Z or Millennials, it’s not their job to solve this mess. It’s ours.