Sunday, January 19, 2014

Wine crush part III: try a little tenderness

I've been known to occasionally compare wine to love, and one of my favorite topics is wine crushes, both requited and unrequited. Last week, I learned I'm predictable when it comes to my palate, favoring earthy wines above others. One of the recommended grapes on my chart was Sangiovese, so I took to my local Trader Joe's in search of a bottle. I'd tried Grifone's Primitivo to decent results, so I figured I'd give their equally cheap (4 bucks!), also charmingly labeled (sleek!) Sangiovese a try to celebrate finishing my puzzle (1000 pieces in 8 days!).

My first sip was a huge disappointment. Apparently that powerful aroma of mulch and leather and other things that should never be liquid is only found in expensive wines? But I hated to give in to that idea. So I tried a little tenderness. I sniffed with the wine still. I swirled. I dug deep into that wine, probing and nuzzling and pondering until I detected some earthy notes. Sure, it was mostly fruit. But there was more, too. Even if it wasn't really there, I found something special in that four-dollar fountain of truth.

"You could build a city in the forgotten spaces between things." This line from Jennifer Egan's "Look At Me" is one of my favorites. It's written on half an index card and hung over my desk, right beneath a framed photo of a koala and next to a bottle of scotch (my spirit animals). It helps me remember to notice the little things, and the non-things, and the feeling things we've been too successful in forgetting. It reminds me that the things we fail to notice and the things we fail to imagine are the same, which means that like the things we do notice, that which we imagine is real.

Is this wine good? Or is its sleek label on the green bottle, its being made out of a grape I was sure I'd love, its price tag so temptingly low that I found a way to like it? And if I savor it, if I build aromatics in the forgotten space between sips, does it really matter?

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