Different Modes of Exploration #10: Wine
My nose leans in towards the last sip of a Central California Pinot Noir, a grape varietal (one of my absolute favorites) described as “silky, complex, subtle and beautiful,” by the experienced wine enthusiast guiding me through a tasting. This is our third wine of the night, representing a 3rd vineyard, a 3rd vintage, and a 3rd varietal. We haven’t been around the world by any means, but we have traveled (via the senses) to several different locations and several different years (yes, we’re time traveling), during this wine voyage.
After exploring 2/3rds of California’s coast over the past three weeks, enjoying nearly thirty wineries and breweries in that time, I’m finally inclined to say a small something about the ability of wine and beer to assist our travel to (and in) far away lands. I’ve been hesitant to discuss wine and beer as forms of travel for fear of sounding trite, corny or over-indulgent. But after hearing a well-known winemaker discuss the concepts of terroir, somewhereness, and tepacity, I’m convinced that these alcohol-based time machines of fermented grapes and malted barley offer a less-explored mode of transportation.
At coloradobrewerydays.com, a website Lindsay and I run as a hobby, I’ve talked extensively in my blog about the community the craft beer culture helps form in our local areas. And I’ve discussed that the locations of breweries encourage us into parts of the state which we might not otherwise visit. Wine creates these positive outcomes as well. And in addition, much like beer, wine also offers stimulation to our sometimes less-used senses, (predominantly through flavor and aroma), helping us wander to new locations without traveling more than the distance it takes to pour a glass.
How so? Wine can tell us about the soil in which the grapes were grown. It can reveal to us the temperature, climate and weather for the specific season of its vintage. A good wine will even reveal to us whether or not the wine maker has manipulated the wine, grown the vines bio-dynamically, allowed sheep to roam through the vineyard, or picked grapes in the cool night hours when they’re properly re-hydrated.
This might take some additional interpretation and storytelling, but as with all good travel, we must look closely at the time and place where we’ve arrived to gain that richer understanding so often offered when visiting an unfamiliar location. Even more exciting, we can easily pour another glass and travel there all over again in a matter of minutes. Or we can revisit the location some years later, quenching travel nostalgia by simply opening a bottle of that same wine.
But you usually can’t recognize all this without a glass in-hand . . . so go get one, and we’ll talk some more.
No, really, I’ll wait . . .