my favorite things

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seattle Wine Gal (Barbara Evans) asks on Facebook “What is your favorite thing about wine?” My all-too-brief reply: “Its complexity – social, historical, sensual, intellectual.” I could have continued... I love the artistic, challenging, inspiring, emotional aspects of wine. In truth, I have no one, single favorite "thing" about wine. It pushes past so many boundaries. It relies upon each one of us to make of it what we will.

I'm not talking about piling on extra flavor descriptors, or debating ratings, or the importance of blind tasting, or so much of what currently dominates online discussions. I want wine to take me to some more exotic places. History, for example. Though books are becoming about as fashionable as buggy whips, I love collecting old wine books. Why? Because they take me places that the internet cannot. They put me back in a different time. They put wine in a different context. They shine a light on how styles change, and how wine is impacted by current fashion.

Only music can transport me to equally interesting, non-linear, non-verbal places. A favorite song, that you attach to a special event, such as a wedding, forever calls up that moment in time. Just as a particular bottle of wine can be indelibly locked into a certain memory.

Then there is the treasure-hunting aspect. It's fun to go digging through dusty bins looking for bottles, especially in foreign countries, with ancient wine shops. That treasure hunting ties into the collector inside each of us. Collecting wine can become an obsession, leading to massive investments in showy cellars stuffed with unopened boxes that trumpet your prowess. Look at the exclusive mailing lists I'm on! they seem to say.

Collecting can also deliver more subtle pleasures – if you slowly and surely define what wines you most enjoy, whether they are rare or not, expensive or not, trendy or not. They become your personal favorites, just as Lightnin' Hopkins or Mississippi John Hurt or Coltrane or Billie Holiday can become personal favorites. And then the collecting really brings pleasure on an ongoing basis, not to show off, but just to enjoy. Play the song. Drink the wine.

What is your favorite thing about wine? I am not sure I can pick a favorite. My favorite thing is that I have no favorite thing. I just love wine.

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"From wine what sudden friendship springs" is a quote attributed to a 17th century poet, John Gay. Truer words were never spoken. This new version of my website, now happily ensconced on Blogger, with greatly enhanced functionality, is entirely owed to the sudden friendship of two very generous people.

Jeff Lewis is a custom software developer and consultant, specializing in open source and free software technologies. His company is Burly Systems and he can be reached at burlysystems@gmail.com. Without his expertise and constant encouragement, I'd still be operating a wood-fired computer. Rhia Bucklin took on the challenge of re-coding my original iWeb design into Blogger, and helped Jeff set up a website that even I can manage without difficulty. Rhia’s business website is 216 Colors.

My deepest appreciation to both Jeff and Rhia. Should any readers need some help with their own blog or website, here are the folks who can help you move past any and all hurdles.


2 comments:

scott said...

PG – very thoughtful and insightful post.

Corey said...

Paul,

After reading your posts over the past week or so I have to say that I agree with many things you've pointed out. While the debate rages on over the scores, publications, advertising, blah, blah it's important to recognize this as NOISE. As a winemaker I've struggled with my 89 vs. so-and-so's 93 and then the next time roles were reversed? It used to piss me off to no end. No more. I realize that scores get us recognized period. Greg Harrington said it best, "that scores don't sell wine until they are at 95," or you have every wine in your portfolio 93-96 points... (Funny thing is that many wine drinkers don't even like many of these high scoring wines in the first place.)

This struggle brought me to my understanding of what the wine drinkers are really after. The EXPERIENCE! As you point out in this current blog post... The more we complicate things the more people want to simply experience the things about wine that attracted them in the first place to the beverage we love.

In an industry now flooded by wines that fit into this narrowed band of subjectivity we all need to realize that it all means virtually the same as it did before. Taste it. What do you like? Just like music.

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