You’d think, as a woman who likes words and who likes eating and drinking at LEAST as much as the next woman, that I could find it in me to describe wines pithily enough. Or at least accurately.
But apparently those words I reserve for taste–and I’m excluding “orgasmic” and “fantasmagorical” and “revelatory,” just this once–are just not going to cut it for wine. That’s right. When I describe what kind of wine I like, I get blank looks from sommeliers. Blank looks, I should add, which cover a fleeting personal terror as they wonder how vacuous and meaningless my life and nerve endings must be that I’m so senseless about something so categorically sensual.
Wine is bottled poetry.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Cardinal Richelieu himself–yes, the infamous nemesis of the Three Musketeers–ended up owning a vineyard, where he ensconced his favorite mistress and hosted lavish parties with guests as celebrated as Louis XIV.
Surprised? Don’t be. As this esteemed man of God said:
If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?
And more powerful an argument for understanding the root difference between Good and Evile, I cannot imagine. Particularly when so espoused by so evidently abstemious and great a man as Richelieu.
Poets and Nobel laureates from time immemorial have waxed poetic on the subject of wine’s sensual delights. Lord Byron, Hemingway, Keats, Goethe, Shakespeare–all the great luminaries. All of them. But not just them. Gods–GODS–enjoyed this victual in near naked abandon. So, as I clearly number myself among–hm–poets, nobel laureates and gods–why can’t I describe wine in a way understood by wine connoisseurs?
Tonight over dinner, I discovered the reason. It’s because I was drinking it.
“As opposed to what?” you ask. (And, dear reader, I’m glad you did. What a seamless segue you’ve made for me!)
As opposed, dear reader, to EATING it.
That’s right. How did I figure this out?
Well, mere hours ago, as I was making some pasta primavera, I thought to myself, “Self, wouldn’t a dash of wine be simply delish in dinner?” Perhaps unsurprisingly, I agreed. I pulled open the fridge and peered for a dry Riesling. Ah, just a tiny bit left. I dashed it in and mixed. Hm, a little more bite. Good. And yet the pasta didn’t taste great yet. (And pasta musts needs be great.) And then, someone interrupted me while cooking.
“Self,” this person said, “maybe some more wine, what do you think?” And I concurred.
Again I peered into the fridge, this time pulling out a Faustino Rioja Reserva. (Twenty points to Gryffindor if you realize I bought it purely because of Faust.) Then I poured a mite too much in.
“Oops,” I said, but I paid myself no heed, for “oops” is my most common word in the kitchen. I folded in the Rioja, and took another taste. Hm. Earthy.
“I wonder,” I mused, and turned to the fridge for the third time. This time I pulled out a fortified wine that I’d found too sweet earlier. And yes, I poured in a tad. Mixed it in. Fruity!
The pasta begged for some rosemary and oregano, then some olive oil and parmesan, and it was done. A three-wine pasta primavera. Delicious. And as I ate it, I realized I’d used words that my wine specialist friends use. I’d used bona fide wine words.
So all I have to do from now on out, if I want to learn wine, is…eat it.
Good thing I’m not a Roman goddess. Not only would I have to be ridiculously capricious, I’d also have to slather my apples and grapes with pasta sauce in order to join in the Bacchanalian mayhem. And that would be mildly yuck.
It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one’s present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.
Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.
Medieval German saying