To see wine

To see wine is to see connections. And, here, I do not mean all the connections related to tracing a wine back to its roots and so on. All of those questions related to origin are interesting, however, I am most concerned with the last couple of steps: who selected the wine and how it made its way to a shelf in a shop. If I cannot find the answer to at least one of these questions, I am much less likely to buy the wine.

One connection relates to responsibility. Who tasted the wine and who responded positively enough to order it? If associating with a shop does not eventually lead to an answer to this question, then I am much less likely to continue my relationship with that shop and what amounts to a wine “crap shoot.” Wines ordered off of spreadsheets are probably not very enticing; I am not a numbers man. I don’t believe in Robert Parker. I believe in the palates of good friends with like interests. I find it more fun to discover a wine with other people and then find out that it may have been rated well by others. (Just bear in mind that if this progression happens to you, your latest discovery may quickly disappear from the shelf. “Call some place paradise, kiss it good-bye!”) Such discoveries are also a part of the connections and the memory of wine. When I look at a bottle in my cellar, I like to see part of its path to me – I like to reflect on who has touched it and altered my life in the process. When tasting, I am able to reacquaint myself with a large portion of what is valuable about a particular wine.

Ideally, I want to get to know the person who put the wine on the shelf. My family makes fun of my attempts to describe wine. They refer to me and friends who wax poetically about wine as geeks – a term I now find endearing. But, if I cannot meet the geek who put the wine on the shelf, then how can I judge its integrity? I want to hear the lyrics of someone attempting to describe the glistening contents of a glass bottle. And when I taste it, I will see if I can hum the same tune. Harmonize. There is nothing like making music with others. While music has mathematical aspects, math does not make me hum. I repeat, I am not a numbers man.

The wine equation in Creston, Illinois, tends to be: knowing Rouge = knowing Eric. And (especially since Eric just became an American citizen on December 2) we can say that the buck stops with him. As far as I know, each wine that has made its way into Rouge has been tasted by Eric or one of his trusted geeks. Eric is not hard to find, but his wine knowledge is not easy to plumb. Or, to put it another way, Eric’s wine knowledge is sound, but he is not that easy to sound. And that brings me back to my love of music (and wine)....

The Wine Nose (December 2008)