Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wine Ramblings

The point that I'm trying to make with all this, and that I'll return to repeatedly, is that wine is not quantifiable; nor is any experience with wine perfectly replicable. Therefore, it seems absurd to try and break it down the fashion that the wine press attempts to do so: into a consumer good that is certain, finite, and readily describable. They do so because it is their job to do so, and because it sells a certain amount of advertising space, but it demeans the product to pretend that it is something that it isn't. When a consumer opens a bottle and drinks it on any particular night, they are creating for themselves an experience that they will only have once, and that noone else in all of human existence will have. That is the beauty of wine, and it is its ultimate downfall as a piece of consumer art, for it is replicability that is required for that to be the case. It is not Pop Art; Andy Warhol has no place in the wine industry, despite what Dom Perignon may have to say. What anyone who knows anything about wine loves about it is that each experience is singular in nature, and each taste of any given wine is its own experience. These experiences can vary minorly, as intra-bottle sips of wine show new and intruiguing elements, or majorly, as one experiences different bottles of the same wine over a period of years.

One of the major points in favor of collecting wine in large quantity - by the case or more - is that the collector can return to a certain wine and see how it has changed over the years, how each bottle opened at a different time can show a completely different character. In essence, a collector on this level can have a wine in its youth, see it evolve over the length of its existence, and in the end, see it die. This is one of the true beauties of great wine - that it has a shelf life, but one that (in the case of the greatest wines of all time) rivals the length of any man’s time on Earth. Thus does it have the ability to become a constant companion; a collector’s favorite wines can age along with them, starting out youthful and exuberant, growing into maturity and peaking, and eventually becoming old, complex, and fragile.

Am I romanticizing this fermented grape juice beverage as much as the over-exuberant wine critics that I tend to disparage? Perhaps. But my perspective seems to be at the polar opposite of those who speak of wine in finite terms, in definite this-is-good-this-is-bad phrases. I think that each consumer has to take wine for what it is, and not necessarily overanalyze it, but instead just recognize its beauty or its inferiority for them personally at that moment. It's so easy to be a know-it-all, but it doesn't mean that you actually know anything more than anyone else.

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