What is Wine Anyway?
September 18, 2007
Eric Asimov at the New York Times posted a blog entry yesterday about whether a wine’s “context” should be considered in its evaluation or whether it should be tasted blind. In a tangentially-related post by Dr. Vino, the topic (and poll) is whether kids should be banned from wineries. Both sparked lively debates that illustrated how polarized people are in their views on wine.
Some see wine almost like a work of art captured in liquid form. And, naturally, they would prefer to enjoy the masterpiece in peace, with minimal distraction, focusing on nothing but the sensory stimulations coming from the glass.
At the other end of the spectrum are people who see wine as a part of life. When a cork is pulled, it means something to be shared, not coveted. To them, wine is not something that separates a select few, but something that binds every one of us together.
I can understand where both sides are coming from (and I actually see a correlation with keepers and revelers), but I have to admit to being someone who thinks wine and life (and family) go hand in hand.
I can’t imagine separating a wine from the conditions in which it was grown or the context in which it’s enjoyed. When I drink a Silver Oak, I think of the first birthday meal I made Christopher in my little Brooklyn brownstone 11 years ago and popping the bottle that my boss had given me as kudos for a project well done. When I open a Clos du Bois, I think of all the wonderful evenings spent on our friends’ deck, overlooking Alexander Valley, surrounded by grapes that would eventually end up in the Clos du Bois Merlot. When I drink an ‘04 vintage from Sonoma County and it’s bursting at the seams with fruit, I chuckle with the memory of the sweltering heat and how we had to take refuge in our friends’ barrel room to keep cool.
Do all these outside influences cloud my judgment of the wine? Perhaps. But I can’t imagine it any other way.
So I’m curious. What is wine to you?