I was discussing with a friend the nature of people - who we are and how we came to be that way and why - how the individuality that defines each of us is created by our own unique complex network of genetic and environmental factors, some of which we understand, and some of it not; some of which we have had control over, some of it not; some of which have made us stronger, happier, and some of it not; all of it making us who we are - a unique, amazing, beautiful, personal collage of colour and patterns of experience and thought and emotion.
I smiled and thought, “mmm, just like wine.”
The most common question at my tastings ask “why”: Why is this sauvignon blanc different to one I had last week? Why does this wine smell of apples? Why is this wine better with cheese? In essence, why is this wine the way it is? I love those questions, because the answer is just the same as for why we are the way we are - a unique, complex network of genetic and environmental factors, some of which we understand, and some not; some which we have control over, some not; some of which have made the wine stronger, better, and some not; all of it making it what it is - a unique, amazing, beautiful collage of colour and texture and experience of aroma and sensation.
Or, to be more specific... the grape - the variety of the grape, the particular cutting of that variety used on the particular vineyard, the rootstock it was grafted on to; the environment - the way the vine was trained, the way it was pruned, when it was pruned, how densely it was planted, how tall it was allowed to grow, the angle it was planted it, the slope of the ground out of which it grew, the mineral content of the soil from which it grew, the size of the particles in the soil from which it grew, the drainage of the soil from which it grew, how much it rained, how clean the rain was, how much extra water it was given, how many extra nutrients it was given, how much protection it needed from pests and frosts, how much protection from pests and frosts it was given, how many days the sun came out during growing season, how long each of those day the sun shone for, how warm the sun made the vineyard, how windy it was, how clean the air was, how the grapes were picked, when the grapes were picked; the winemaker - the equipment used, the techniques employed, how long to macerate, how long to ferment, the temperature of the ferment, what to do with the lees, whether and what to add, whether and what to blend, how to clean the wine, how to preserve the wine, how to age, what to age in, when to bottle, how to bottle; and of course, the final stage - how the wine’s stored, the conditions in which it’s stored, the way the wine is opened, the temperature it is served at, whether it’s decanted, the glass it’s served in, the food it’s served with... from beginning to end, every stage, every condition, every decision has an effect on how that wine will taste.
This is what makes wine so wonderful and amazing. Wine is more than a recipe, and drinking it - even the most basic, everyday plonk - should be more than just having a drink. Each bottle, just like each person, has its own personality and its own story to tell. That’s a thing to be savoured; a thing to be appreciated.
So here I am; back with that big ole beautiful word: appreciation, because that’s really what The Dancing Vine is all about. It's why my mantra in what I do is ‘every sip should be special’, and why I believe that there’s a lot of joy to be found in that. I wonder... maybe if we can learn to savour and appreciate the nature of wine for it’s many different styles and forms and stories and personalities, we can learn a bit more about doing the same with the nature of people...? Mmm, there's a thought that's making me smile :)