Wine is alive. It has the ability to reach through the glass and speak to us. Sometimes it is a soft whisper in your ear…sometimes it screams in your face. The story it tells can be one of joy or sadness, celebration or struggle. A wine can pull you close and move with you slowly, softly… leaving its sweet scent and perhaps a dash of rouge on your collar after it’s gone. A wine may also slam the door without a good-bye, an empty pack of cigarettes and a fuzzy pair of handcuffs the only indication of your meeting.
Wine teaches us. It can reach inside us and withdraw our deepest emotions. Pain, sorrow, joy, love, lust, longing. Some time ago wine reached out and gave me a lesson on mortality and, more importantly, what really matters in life.
I arrived at the house expecting to make a few dollars humping cases from one cellar to another. The owner, a widow, greeted me at the front door. The space was cavernous and looming. A landscape of dark marble, leather, antiques, prestige. The air was full of wealth, but also of sadness; of grief and emptiness. As the widow guided us down into the cellar I could feel her pain. The wine we were taking that day was not just fermented grape juice, it was a tangible piece of her husband, packaged in glass vessels.
Taking count of the bottles in his pristine cellar, it was clear that the husband had loved these wines. These bottles were not merely purchased out of a mild interest in wine or as trophies. This cellar was a labour of love. Rare and elusive, each bottle was a well-worn notebook whose pages contained stories of travel and of adventure, love and loss. I could feel the energy these wines exuded. They longed to be released.
A handful were too young, too shy. They needed the comfort of darkness, stillness and time to show their true potential. But for those in their prime I tried to put myself in the husband’s head. Why were they unopened? Was he waiting for the perfect time? The perfect occasion? Surely, if he were given the chance to come back and join me in that cellar for only a minute, he would open these bottles and breathe in the symphony of exotic scents. We would savor the richness, depth and complexity as the wine rolled across our tongues. Instead these wines remained silent, their elegance and grace entombed beneath a small cylinder of cork.
Wine is alive. It has the ability to reach through the glass and to speak with us. Sometimes it rips open our eyes and shows us those things that really matter. When treated as a trophy, a commodity to be traded but never enjoyed, the brilliance of wine is lost. Only when given breath and allowed to dance in the company of good food, friends and family can wine share its wisdom.
Drink your wine. You never know what tomorrow will bring.