Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Wine and the Hot, Blonde Cheerleader
I was selling wine Saturday morning, busy day, the day before Easter. A customer approached me and said:
"Do you have any Cakebread reds? No?." Sigh.
I've heard that sigh from people looking for Cakebread wines ten times a week for months. I'm getting tired of it.
Now, mind you, I'm not annoyed by the fact that the customer wanted Cakebread wines. The One Rule applies. In fact, Cakebread makes some damn good wines. If I'd had them, the customer would have gotten them, but Cakebread is between vintages. In this case, it wasn't the customer's preference that got to me - it was the sigh.
It's fundamental human nature to try and repeat pleasurable experiences. I get that. Boy, do I get that.
Problem is, people want the same thing they want from wine as they do from a spouse. They want wine to be faithful. They want wine to never change.
Big mistake. It'll never happen.
Wine is like any other agricultural product, be it wheat or sugar snap peas or zucchini. It's going to be different from location to location and year to year. Expecting wine to be consistent is just a false hope. Winemakers all over the world would love to provide you wine with the same flavor, same quality, same texture each and every vintage. It just can't be done.
Wine's not a faithful girl - it's just not in her nature.
OK, OK, you surrender. Expecting wine to deliver, year in, year out is asking for trouble.
What to do?
Don't treat wine like a spouse. Don't expect constancy. Think of wine as that senior cheerleader (or the captain of the swim team, as applicable) who was normally way outta your league. You know the one I'm talking about - that hot, blonde thang who you hoped would talk to you, hell, even glance at you.
You knew then that even if you did catch her eye, she wasn't going to stick around. She had at least five boyfriends, three of them in college. She couldn't be contained. She was a force of nature. She had bigger, better, more universal things to attend to. Hoping for more was a disaster and you knew it.
She understood her beauty was fleeting. She knew that tiny millisecond of eye contact was a gift and it would be irresponsible to give it to just one person. It was a once in a lifetime thrill and it wasn't meant to last.
That's my answer to the consistency problem. I try to live by it. Some people taste the world's greatest wines - Domaine de la Romanee Conti's, Chateau Margaux or Turley Zinfandel - and spend their entire lives (and wallets) chasing after that one, singular moment.
Not me. I've tasted some of those wines and sure, they're fabulous, but I'm not going to try to recover that instant of pleasure. Can't be done. I'll ponder that sip of enological joy only for as long as it lasts and then start looking for the next.
If you live by this philosophy, I think your wine life will be more passionate, fuller and sweeter.
But, whatever you do, keep trying to catch that cheerleader's eye - if you're lucky she might wink at ya.