By Kirk Peterson and Marisa Finetti
Great wine is art that must be destroyed to be enjoyed. It is an anachronism, a vestige of another time, and another way of living. Vines are fussed and fawned over, cajoled and supplicated to give up their fruit for wine to then be locked away from the world, aging and changing and developing at a rate entirely its own. It presents an opportunity to taste the labors of people long gone, a bottled memory of the character and temperament of the sun and the rains that year, perhaps before you were born, perhaps from somewhere you will never get to visit. You can taste the feeling of the sun on your face some years, the wine generous and rich and ripe. Others smell crisp and verdant, like a fresh breeze, a record of rainstorms or eager, early autumns that lent their coolness to the wine.
Wine is what it is like to taste music, to feel the ephemeral textures as they dance across your tongue. Wine is a confidant, an ally, and an accomplice. Wine is food.
And wine is a friend.
Wine listens at the end of the day and is a companion so dependable that even when the glass is long since empty, it’s still with you. Like a friend, wine surprises us. Sometimes it confounds and frustrates and disappoints us. With every opening, the moments are spontaneous, flowing with memories and stories that you create together. If you are patient wine will move at your speed and match your stride.
Heraclitus said “You cannot step into the same river twice, for other waters are continually flowing on.” The Greek philosopher might as well have been talking about wine. We can never really drink the same wine twice for it changes just as we do, and that moment shared can only exist once, never to be completely replicated. The first pour to the second from the same bottle is a different experience. Wine continues to transform, a chameleon in a glass, both evasive and enticing. And the constant change and evolution of wine and in us lead to a dynamic and venerable camaraderie.
The friendship persists despite being continually subject to an influx of circumstances – the knowledge and experience we bring (or not) to the place, occasion and company in which we drink it, and to the food we enjoy it with. Context can be so perilously crucial.
A wine is a friend when it is transparent and authentic. The connection sparks when the wine reveals its distinctiveness. When a wine inherently expresses its origin – whether it’s from a perilously steep hill overlooking a meandering river or a particular patch of whitish chalky soil- we can feel authenticity, singular and genuine, and true.
Wine has been a dependable friend, being part of our culture for thousands of years. When water wasn’t potable, wine was there. When food was scarce, wine was there too. It has cradled us through good times and bad.
Hemingway wrote in Death in the Afternoon, “Wine is one of the natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
Yet still, wine embodies a rare and precious intimacy with beauty in an intensely personal way. No one but you gets your sip and all the drops of memory and emotion it can bring. Having been there through time, wine has made an impression upon people, providing this ineluctable connection to us, to food, to culture, to our past, to our future. It’s the essence of some of the most memorable moments of our lives. And those are the ones that listen, console, and cheer. And if we need a break, wine will not be insulted. But we certainly can’t it for granted.
They are as unconditional as the dearest of friends, bringing out our best expression.