Friday, December 22, 2006

Wine: the New Enlightenment

~Silly me. I’ve been under the illusion that wine is a marvelous pleasure that enhances a meal. Just recently, however, a few wine geeks informed me that wine is an intellectual pursuit as well as a great hobby.
~I feel so low when I think of all the years I’ve wasted reading David Hume, William James, Ayn Rand, and Groucho Marx for intellectual stimulation when all I had to do was open a bottle of wine and I would “know.” But not just any wine.
~When I take stock in my hobbies and find that wine is not on the list, I feel the lack so deeply it makes me want to run out and buy more wine to put away for thirty years so that I may “know.” But it can't be just any wine.
~I have wasted so many years experimenting with hundreds of different wines from hundreds of wine regions and producers, pairing them with a variety of foods, not to mention tasting them with a wide sweep of people of varying tracts of life, and from various countries and cultures, and what have I got to show for it?
~I’ve experienced the vacuous nature of fun, joy, and pleasure, but do I “know” anything intellectually?
~None of the wines have ever taught me about the universe or the meaning of God, although I have to admit that a lot of them have made me think I had gone to heaven. But what do I “know?”
~Now I know that I've chosen the wrong wines all along, and under the wrong circumstances.
~How sad that so late in my life I learn that to have truly experienced life through intellectual pursuit I should have been building a wine cellar and a wine collection, I should have been keeping copious notes and assigning points, I should have been making sure that top names and top dollars were all that left my lips and wallet, I should have subscribed to one or more of the guru-zines so that I would “know” even more, I should have been looking down on 95% of the wines as well as 95% of the people in this world, none of which would ever reach greatness, nor would they stimulate my intellect—hell, at this point I’m wondering if I’ve even got an intellect. I just don’t “know.”

It’s been estimated that about 95% of the wine purchased in America is consumed within hours of purchase—the sad, unknowing, great unwashed at their best, and probably not one of them has a wine cellar, let alone a wine refrigerator. What’s worse, many of the wines they consume come without ratings or reviews, and to buy them does not require securing a mortgage. For shame.

~How sad it is that most of us don’t get the real purpose of wine. We miss the intellectual stimulation of finding a restaurant dumb enough to allow us to bring our own bottle, to take up a corner of the place away from the stench of humanity so that we can take in the stench of horse shit in our pedigree red wines and cat piss in our whites. We miss the camaraderie involved in the parlor game of guessing the vintage, the grape variety, whether or not the wine had been filtered, and the age of the horse that shit in the wine. We miss the joy of berating those who guess wrong, who inadvertently bring a bottle that had been spoiled, who actually like what they are not supposed to like, who spent less on their offering than the rest of us. But most of all, we miss all that cock-sure knowledge that drinking pedigree provides.
~If only I had known.
~If only the great mass of non wine geeks could have the experience of drinking a wine that has scored at least 90 points, or drinking one with a price tag that rivals beluga.
~If only the un-intellectual could raise their intelligence quotient by drinking wine out of highly breakable crystal glass that also has the ability to direct the wine to the proper places on their palates (yes, a glass manufacturer makes this specious claim).
~If only instead of mandating a warning label the government mandated that wine replace books.
~If only the great teeming swell of humanity could collectively become one big world of wine geekdom—then we would all “know.”
~If only wine were part of the American culture from its beginning; then, we wouldn't need geeks to make it an intellectual pursuit and I could go back to reading David Hume, William James, Ayn Rand, and Groucho Marx.

Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
December, 2006. All Rights reserved.

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