I often get asked, “what do you love about wine?”
My relationship with wine is a bit obsessive. I am pulled by the intrigue of the unique story in each glass. I am held by its rich flavor. And I am frustrated that I will never be able to fully understand or explore every grape, region and nuance.
Describing the thing I love most about wine requires a story and of course a glass. I’ve cracked open a recent discovery – a silvaner from the Franken region in central Germany made by Zehnthof Luckert. These two brothers and their son have pulled together a rich, zesty, and very dry white wine made from a once-loved grape that fell out of favor and is slowly pushing its way back into people’s hearts, minds and mouths. It has a steely nose filled with minerals, a gentle bite out of the gate, followed by a rich texture and a soft finish. The flavor profile is packed with lemon-lime zest coupled with a subtle vanilla cream and salt water giving it a creamy mouthfeel without losing that lemonade brightness. Trust me. It’s good. And it’s a perfect wine for a story about dogs and summer days…
(I’ll pause here for you to grab a glass as well)
I discovered my love of wine much the same way I discovered my love of dogs. A few years back I was visiting family and a small Maltese named Sadie kept coming by to play. Once she figured out how much we enjoyed rolling around in the grass with her, she visited every day, climbing up the stairs to the back porch slider where she could see in the house. She would smile happily and then wait for us to come out and play. Until we didn’t.
My family sent us pictures of the poor thing hanging by the back door, wondering why we weren’t there. It didn’t take me long after returning home to decide to pay it forward by adopting a Maltese named Frankie. At almost 10 years old, he was a little spitfire we frequently called Flying Frankie for his tendency to leap down the last several steps of any staircase. Not bad for a 56 year old (in dog years).
Every morning and evening he still tries to convince me to play keep away with him – his favorite game. Sometimes I give in – running around the house like I’m five again. Other times I sit on the floor with my coffee in the morning or wine in the evening and play fetch. When I get up – even to quickly grab something – he gets up and follows me. When I sit down, he sits down – usually at my feet. Sometimes he cocks his head as if to say “Seriously, you need to sit down so I can sit down. I’m tired and don’t feel like following you anymore.”
I was always a cat person, and then I wasn’t. I discovered the beauty of slowing down to just be present with my dog. I learned to be childlike again and revel in each individual moment as it passed by.
Wine did something similar for me. I was – and frequently still am – a business like eater with a “food is food” mentality. I’d pack away a meal in record time so I could get back to doing something more interesting. Then I started pouring that glass of wine and really experiencing it. I was fascinated that each glass was so different, so I would stop and savor every sip. The flavors always changed as it sat in the glass, or built on the profiles of your food, so you could never judge it at first sip. Wine was an experience. It was a taste experience.
Experiencing wine taught me to slow down and experience food as well. I have learned to truly enjoy my meals. The act of opening a bottle of wine has become a reminder to me that it’s time to stop and smell the roses.
Which takes us to dishes.
My dishwasher broke recently, so I reverted to hand washing until I could call the repair person. Only I never called. I’d forgotten that doing the dishes by hand is one of those chores I love, almost as much as I hate loading and unloading the dishwasher. There’s a beauty in seeing the fruits of my labor and a methodical nature to the actions involved. Pick up a dish… wash… rinse… inspect… set it down to dry… repeat…
Washing dishes is all about being present. As the dishes are getting cleaned, my mind is organizing and clearing.
Washing dishes and being with my dog give me a lot of the same joys that wine does. My exploration of wine encourages me to be present and explore everything the glass has to offer methodically, slowly and deeply. It combines a vivid sensory experience with intellectual discovery, and emotional connections.
In life I’m too fast, but in wine, I’ve learned to slow down and smell the roses.