I’m a self-proclaimed misanthrope. I covet solitude for the most part and I can go weeks without really getting the urge to have one-on-one time with another human being. This is partly because I live with a person and I get enough time there, partly because as the years have gone past most of the things that I sought after in other human beings I mostly found in myself, and partly because I have been hurt so many times and so frequently by others that on a base level it’s generally not an enjoyable experience for me. This isn’t something that should engender pity in anyone – it’s just the way it is.
Learning about wine feels like entering a deeper universe.
I keep thinking about infinity, how it’s not only forward and backwards, but inward and outward. Infinity is the capacity of every object and idea, and its interconnectedness with everything else. The sommelier spends years dedicating themselves to learning about the vastness that’s inside of grapes. GRAPES. And how these grapes intersect with taste, personality, terroir, culture, geography.
Everywhere you look, there’s something deep to explore, subterranean waters of consciousness.
I’m in my late twenties, so I feel like I want to begin to bring all my motion inward, to learn things like time management and cooking and wine now that I have a more stable sense of self. And also – to incorporate those sort of things into a deeper understanding of the world, and subsequently, my writing. I’ve been reading this book called “The Wine Bible”, scouring blogs, watching Youtube guides, prowling the local Specs, trying to compel my tastebuds to pick out subtleties of flavor.
I’m a part-time alcoholic, but I restrain it most days. And I’m not typically picky about my food, or my drink. I don’t have any compunction about downing an entire bottle of phosphorescent blue MD 20/20 if the times or tough, or if I have a little extra money, grabbing a bottle of absinthe off the shelves and sending myself down the blissful, black-licorice of blackout lane. The first time I got drunk I was 21, and my roommate offered me some Evans Williams, which everyone in the room was drinking straight from the bottle, with shooters of Pepsi or beer. I remembered eating a piece of pizza, vomiting all over my clothes, and then lurching around the backyard. From that day forward I was hooked on the low-high-low of the alcohol swing. I still can’t smell whiskey without imagining grease, dirt, the possibility of excitement like a little shining pulse where my heartbeat should be.
But when learning about wine, I have to be picky. I have to pull myself out of the disassociation fog I’ve spent most of my life in and really explore the complexity of subtlety. It forces me to slow down, to make informed choices, to really -think- about each action and motion that I make.
Trying to get wine pairings right is like Robert Johnson level sorcery. I tried to pair wine the other day with some spicy mac and cheese. I picked a sweet Riesling – which didn’t quite hit the mark, but I like the idea of pairing wines with foods that are out of the ordinary realm of what would be traditional pairings, like macaroni or ice-cream sandwiches or gummy octopus. (Although I should probably learn traditional first.)
The other day I made steak and paired it with a cabernet sauvignon. Robert showed me how eating the steak and wine at the same time brought out the flavor of cherry in the wine. He told me that after a hundred bottles or so, of categorizing and marking different tastes, I’d eventually get a sense of different tastes, and differences in the varietals.
People spend a lifetime dedicating themselves to learning these things.
That’s a lot of dedication, for something that doesn’t really make you a lot of money, if any, and honestly, makes you a little insufferable if you start spouting off about it at parties. It’s knowledge for knowledge’s sake. But hey, I drink a lot of wine.
Like I said, infinity. There’s something really delicious about how knowledge can never be complete, or our desire for more of it, never satisfied.