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Friday, November 17, 2006

Wine is alive!!!

One of the few true things spoken in the movie Sideways was when

Virginia Madsen said "the wine is alive."

While wine might not meet all the criteria required by science to be a life form of its own (it doesn't reproduce, but it would be nice if it could) it certainly exhibits some of the phenomena of life. Properly interpreted, wine grows, adapts, and responds to stimuli. It seems to me that wine even has memory. Those memories have roots in wine's early life as a plant: weather conditions, adversities, soil content, aging of the plant, invisible qualities in the air, and everything, everything that happened to the vines in the vintage year leaves indelible organic imprints on the fruit.

Wine grows, too, once the fruit leaves the plant. Like a child that needs to be watched (and given guidance and correction) during his or her formative years, during the vinification process the juice should be carefully followed by the winemaker. The expert hands give a little guidance and the very best winemakers have the goal of retaining the absolutely greatest amount of organic information from the picking to the bottling. Every human action too, leaves its imprint on the wine (think of the growing child, who is learning all the time, whether the parents think they are teaching or not).
Wine responds to stimulus after it’s in the bottle, and like living organisms, it can be hurt, too. The analogies with humans work when thinking of injuries. Young vivacious healthy wines are more resistant to injuries, like exposure to high temperatures. I was in Tuscany a few years ago and had the chance to share some great wines that were in the display window for more than a year. These were high end wines and their condition was quite good considering how poorly they had been stored. One of them was showing some oxidation perfumes at the beginning, but came back strong in half an hour.
This wine was like a teenager, injured but healing quickly after resting. Some of the older wines proved less resilient and didn't recover as well. But thought of as a living thing, we shouldn’t expect antiseptic perfection and robotic durability. A minor injury leaves a small mark and reminds us that wine is precious, delicate, and mortal like us. And a small scar like a cork leak, a small change to a flavor or a damaged label can sometimes, like a small imperfection on a wonderful face, add to the beauty.

Buona Bevuta a Tutti

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow... deep...