The Voice of Wine
Do you recall the experience of being on the receiving end of a message so beautifully rendered and conveyed that it moves you; that it moves your mood and disposition to another key—up or down—and forces an audible awe from the depths?
The message delivered by the greatest wine you've ever tasted, spent time with and even shuddered upon tasting can't do this. And this is the limitation of wine that makes it a voice of accompaniment, not a standard bearer for authentic and momentous shifts of disposition.
This is a somewhat sad revelation for those of us that grant wine a place of significance in our lives. But the sad fact occurred to me today upon having spent time with an authentic pleasure, then following it up immediately with another, of a different type.
This is not so much a lament of despair for wine thought once to be more significant than I now know it is. I think that without wine to accompany moments of significance and simpleness, those moments would not stick in our mind as more important or transcending than they might otherwise have been. But in the end we celebrate an accompaniment.
Wines do deliver a message. If you don't feel the absent Mistrals when you sip a cold French Rose on on a warm summer evening when the wind picks up with the descent in temperature then you have no business spending time with your own thoughts. But that message isn't nearly the same in character or as potentially moving as the intense preciseness of Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" heard late at night, in your car alone on a dark byway or, again, alone late at night as you wind down, or with your lover when not a spec of light kills the silence.
The creamy, otherworldly, elegant intensity of a 1985 Grande Dame may make an otherwise spectacular moment into something surreal and devotional, but it can't transform your disposition the way a reoccurring nightmare does upon it untimely and disturbing return or the way a reconfirming second kiss explains instantly and succinctly that she really is amazing.
This is the limitation of the voice of wine.
It's an expectations game. And here's what's important about all this: When we realize that wine, even at its best, is really no more than an accompaniment to things, moments, people and messages with greater potential for significance and articulate speech, we make wine into a far more useful messenger. We make it into a chorus; a choir. And that's a lot more than can be said for nearly every other inanimate object you know of.