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Untangled Vine

An attempt to sort through all things wine. Specifically of, and about, but not limited to: Food and Wine in Toledo, Ohio. Plus the day to day musings of a Wine Distributor...

Nah, I'm just gonna watch...

I have become focused lately on a pet peeve of mine that seems to be growing in the wine world. Men (not to be sexist, but it’s always men so far) attending tastings, and not interacting, just scribbling notes. And sometimes, they run home to post their findings on Squires bulletin Board. Now I don’t really care that these people feel like their opinions need to be heard for no especially good reason (Hey, I have a blog, who am I?). My problem lies with fact that by painstakingly scribbling down each note, the mini-Robert Parker in them is missing something altogether. Wine is a participatory activity.
The term social drinker exists for a reason. There is a whole swath of wine drinkers that exist solely to put a number on something. I am one of the worst wine note takers in this business. But, I don’t need to access my notes like retailers or restaurateurs. I sell, I don’t buy (except for personal consumption) I have noticed that when I do take notes, I remember the wine a little better, so that may be an area I work on. But I digress, the point of all of this is the dichotomy between the observer and the participant. By choosing to observe wines from afar in as sterile and pure a circumstance as possible, these people are choosing analysis over enjoyment. If they are enjoying the experience, beyond just the wine, they are not following scientific observation guidelines, and should be immediately discredited. The flip side, is, if you just embrace it, who cares if you can reference your 20 year old Lafite notes, it’s always been good, it will always be good. By trying to analyze and describe every nuance these people are completely missing the boat. The best wines I’ve had in my life have been in the company of others, and I am sure this amplified them. That scene in Sideways where he drinks Cheval Blanc from a cup just kills me. Not because of the setting, but because he’s alone. Here’s another movie reference, In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character is sitting in a coffee shop reading and listening to classical music. At one point, his character is so into the music that he looks around for someone to share the moment with, but finds no one. Incidentally, I once came up with a theory that said the most telling quality about a person was whether or not they loved Groundhog Day.
Sometimes the wine helps to create the moment, others, the moment creates the wine. If you don’t set out to enjoy both the moment and the wines, you should probably take up a more solitary activity.
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At 9:20 AM, Anonymous jeremy said...

"That scene in Sideways where he drinks Cheval Blanc from a cup just kills me. Not because of the setting, but because he’s alone."

I agree - and let me add a further layer of heartbreak to the scene that actually messed me up a bit.

Earlier in the movie, Maya says to him (and I might be off on this quote) -
"You know, the day you open a '61 Cheval Blanc... THAT'S the special occasion."

the fact that he CHOSE to open that bottle and partake alone in a diner was one of the most bleak moments of loneliness I've ever seen in a movie. That... savoring... of what was possibly the lowest point in his life.

I had also thought on another level that it was his "bounce" - when you hit the lowest you can, sometimes the way up is to embrace the most basic things that make you up and love them exclusively first... in his case, a cheeseburger and the nicest wine he knew....    

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Austin said...

"Men attending tastings, and not interacting, just scribbling notes"

Maybe that's because, at it's core, wine isn't about wine tastings. Those impersonal environments where the wine that shocks the palate most is best.

Sometimes the best moments in wine, or life, are delicate foods, delicate wines, and that preternatural mix of wine, food, people and place that fixes the experience in your mind.    

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