|Joe Shlabotnik, Flickr|
In vino veritas is a Latin phrase that translates “in wine [there is the] truth". The expression, together with its counterpart in Greek, “Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια” (En oinōi alētheia), is found in Erasmus' Adagia. Pliny the Elder's Naturalis historia contains an early allusion to the phrase. The Greek expression is traced back to a poem by Alcaeus. (source: Wikipedia)
I learned very early on from observing my parents and their friends that wine drinking is a pleasure not to be rushed.
Around our family and friends, alcohol had nothing to do with inebriation - or so infrequently that it's not even worth mentioning (and then of course nobody would drive - not-so-subtle reminder here, everyone!)
|If this is what you see, I hope you have handed |
your keys to someone else long ago!
No, among us, wine was a great pleasure to be savored, honored even, one sip at a time.
When you make love to a wine (because, really, that's what it amounts to), you want to be a patient, attentive, delicate and respectful lover. You want to delight in every little wonderful bit of it.
First, you have to pick a bottle.
|Not just any one will do!|
Annapolis Valley, 2008.
Just like picking a lover, picking a bottle is a paramount decision: failing to choose the right one could end in a disappointing experience, and in love or in wine drinking, that has to be avoided at all costs.
So first, choose a bottle.
At this point I have to mention that the price, if sometimes indicative of quality, does not equate it, and cannot be used as a guarantee. A comparison would be the handsome and jovial person you met and who seemed full of promises, but who ended up being flimsy in bed; similarly, an expensive bottle with a pretty label and an enthralling description might very well slip on your tongue, leaving you with a "I felt nothing" kind of sensation.
|It will be better in other seasons.Annapolis Valley, 2010.|
Choose wisely, my friend.
The advantage is that with wine, you can Google names and ask around for information without it looking like neurotic stalking or excessive pickiness. So go ahead, read, read some more... and ask questions. Better yet, state your criteria (in wine, it is acceptable to start equipped with a precise list of what you're looking for. In love... not so much. Not openly anyways).
You could approach "the expert" (whoever in the vicinity who seems to know wine), and say something along those lines: I am looking for a white wine, lean, dry, mineral, but fruity, to accompany raw oysters.
I had my first French meal and I never got over it. It was just marvelous. We had oysters and a lovely dry white wine. And then we had one of those lovely scalloped dishes and the lovely, creamery buttery sauce. Then we had a roast duck and I don't know what else. Julia Child
Which brings me to my next point: when asked what wine they prefer, the experts, and even the dedicated amateurs, will declare "It depends".
|Annapolis Valley, 2013.|
It depends on the season, it depends on your mood, it depends on what you'll be eating with it. A wine wrong for the circumstances, as interesting as it may be, will either fall flat or scream too loud. The right wine in the right circumstances (and at the right temperature), on the other hand, could leave you with a "special smile" and an overall feeling of well-being that is reminiscent of another kind of "afterglow" that has nothing to do with drunkenness.
If you can have your good wine it with good food, good friends, and good music, even better.
Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken. Ludwig van Beethoven
Once you have the right wine and the right circumstances figured out, I have only 3 words:
Wine deserves time.
Wine deserves your full attention.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older, I'm finding enjoyment in things that stop time. Just the simple act of tasting a glass of wine is its own event. You're not downing a glass of wine in the midst of doing something else. David Hyde Pierce
And remember: drinking the wine is just the cherry on top. Because first, you have to get to know your "lover". Not unlike the dance of seduction, this requires a careful, progressive approach, that involves all five senses. You will pour the wine, not much, maybe a third or a fourth of the glass. Admire the color. The color can tell you a lot about a wine: the grape, the age. Then swirl it. Observe how it covers the inside of the glass, and how the droplets run down. Smell it. Try to figure out some of the aromas (you will get better at this with experience). Swirl the wine some more. Smell it again. If you really appreciate wine, the whole experience could almost stop there: you would already be entranced.
|If the wine is really good, like this Saint-Emilion |
Grand Cru Virginie de Valandraud 2000, you might end up with your nose in the bottle once it's empty. No worries: this is perfectly normal.
When you are ready, when you know precisely what your wine looks and smells like, you can, slowly, go for what I will call "the first kiss". The first kiss is the small amount of wine you will take into your mouth, not to be swallowed right away, but rather to hold, and to put in contact will all parts of your tongue and palate; you are still discovering that wine, remember? Not only the taste, but also the texture.
Finally, you will swallow that little sip of wine. Now is the time to pay attention to the "aftertaste", or what impression you are left with once the wine isn't in your mouth anymore. To really be able to tell, you will have to take a few sips, but soon enough you will know: this is either a good wine, a so-so wine, or a wine that you don't really look forward to drink again.
Remember that swallowing the wine is almost optional: don't they provide spitting buckets for serious wine tasting sessions? What you want to keep in mind is that when it comes to wine (and love, for that matter), quality wins over quantity. Always.
In the meantime, you will - gradually - have learned to "talk wine" just like some talk love: with a precise yet poetic and fluid choice of words that will take your own personal experience and make it available to all those who hear you retell it.
Just read this description of a wine I tried recently at a party, the Rex Goliath Shiraz Giant 47 Pound Rooster (which was "okay", not much more):
"It takes a good day of aeration for the sweet to march away in shame to let the wine's backbone to come blinking out of hiding." (From www.cellartracker.com)
|Annapolis Valley, 2013.|
Which wines will end up on your "good list" and which ones will end up on your "naughty list" concerns only one person: you. As the French saying goes: "Des goûts et des couleurs, on ne discute pas" (There is no accounting for taste). I know I like my red wines dry, old, with a hint of truffle, mushroom, tobacco, leather, prune and/or fig. My white wines I like dry as well, with a mineral personality, plus some fruit depending on the grape. My lovers, well, I like them... er...
Let's just change the topic.
If you are interested in learning how to taste wine, may I redirect you to this website (click here).
And for another tasty post about wine, click here.
Now if you will excuse me... I have a pinot noir to open.