Yes. Yes, I did just embed a clip of the tea scene from Jet Li’s Fearless.
The simple but profound point that this gem of a scene, from a surprisingly decent kung fu movie, makes is that the quality of something is most often subject to the mood of the person experiencing it. If you substitute the word “wine” each time the word “tea” is used in this scene, you’ll see why this clip is relevant for us wine drinkers.
The quality of the taste of any wine you drink will be drastically impacted by your mood and the setting when you taste it.
Yes, you can go to great lengths to eliminate variance when tasting wine. You can always taste wine in the same white room, at the same temperature, in the same type of glass, open for the same amount of time, from the same size bottle, while wearing the same clothes, at the same time of day, after meditating for 15 minutes on emptiness. And then, maybe, you’ll eliminate the variables that could prevent you from tasting objectively.
However, no sane person drinks wine this way.
We drink different kinds of wine with different kinds of food in differnt settings while experiencing a wide array of moods, people, temperatures, ambient smells, and drinking glasses.
And that’s okay. That’s life. And wine is part of it. Intricately woven into the complicated texture of it all. (Read this post for another aspect of wine that is deeply affected by its interconnection to life.)
Your best friend happens to shower in Drakkar Noir, loves anchovy pizza with Riesling, and serves all drinks out of Dixie cups. Are you going to stop being their friend to preserve a pristine wine drinking experience? Or are you going to loosen up and suggest a game of Riesling-pong?
When I look back at the best bottles of wine I’ve ever imbibed, they are inextricable from the memory of a fabulous time.
I remember frying fresh-caught clams and grilling ribeye steaks over an oak stave fire pit, a table filled with more empty bottles than food next to a picture window that opened over the organic vineyard where the tart, ethereal wine from those bottles originated, in the shadow of Mt. Hood.
I remember a stone cabin surrounded by oak forests draped in Spanish moss, and a postcard-perfect organic vineyard on the hillside just beyond the edge of the forest, and the porch where I sat with old friends and drank dark, luscious wine from that vineyard as the setting sun seemed to make the forest and vineyard glow.
The wines from those two experiences were drastically different, yet gave me two of the best wine drinking memories I have. They were delicious wines. The had to be. Any wine would have been, given those circumstances.
At the end of your life, do you want to look back and have sterile white room wine memories of perfectly presented and assessed wines? Or do you want your memories of wine drinking to be full of color, people you care about, and beauty?
The best wine you will ever drink won’t have a perfect score, a gold medal, thousands of raving 5-star reviews, or be in the top 100 wines of the year. If it does, it will be incidental. The best wine – your best wine ever – will be organically embedded into an amazing experience.
For me – as a vigneron, as a critic and judge, as a consumer – that inspires humility. So much of how you experience my wine, and how I will experience others’ wines, will be determined by things outside the bottle, rather than what’s inside.
That’s why Centrals stands for connection. We want to focus as much on the experience we are creating as on the wine we’re crafting.
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