The Memento Theory of Wine and Self
I love the movie "High Fidelity". In addition to being an examination heartbreak, busted love affairs and misery born of unrequited love, it also deals with music geeks—those people for whom the details and intricacies of music knowledge is so important to them it actually helps define their lives. This kind of obsession, not unfamiliar in the wine world, is best on display in High Fidelity when a co-worker (Dick) drops in at the home of the main character ("Rob") played by John Cusack. Rob is sitting on his floor with piles and piles of LPs all around him. The dialogue goes like this:
Dick: I guess it looks as if you're reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological? Not Alphabetical.
Dick: No Fucking Way!
Rob: If I want to find the song "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac I have to
remember that I bought it for someone in the fall of 1983 pile, but
didn't give it to them for personal reasons.
This scene is a perfect example of the way by which our interests, obsessions, and avocations are used to help examine the life we live around them. And it strikes me that Rob's autobiographical reorganization of his record collection for the purposes of examining the course his life has taken is exactly the sort of thing any self-respecting, self-examining wine geek might also undertake.
Visitor: Wow Tom, what the hell are you doing with all your wine out?
Tom: Reorganizing my cellar.
Visitor: By varietal?
Visitor: By country?
Tom: Nuh uh.
Tom: By the women who have been in my life.
Visitor: Heavens to Betsy!!
Tom: Yeah. For example, if I want to find my 1982 Stony Hill Chardonnay, I need to remember that it is in the given-to-me-by-Crazy-Lucy-in-1998 section, but I didn't drink it with her because I wanted to save if for someone special.
I can't help but think that those of us who keep good quantities of bottles on hand don't actually have these kinds of conversations with ourselves in our heads. It seems that once we commit to our obsession in such a way that we begin to acquire things representing that obsession, we also begin to use those things as markers, as a way of recalling our lives and events in our lives that may in fact be altogether separate from the obsession.
It's the Memento Theory of Collecting.
As it turns out, I don't actually have this kind of relationship with my wine. However, I do have it with my books. In fact the collection of books that sit on my shelves in my living room are there not to simply be on hand if I'm in the mood to re-read them. They are there to remind me where I've been intellectually and emotionally. This should be useful news to anyone who is a new acquaintance of mine that finds themselves in my home and wants to learn a little about me.
But the same holds for the person who brings a bottle of wine from their cellar to your home. Take the time to ask them about the wine. Chances are you'll gain some valuable insight about them and possibly about Crazy Lucy.