by Ben Hilzinger
“Wine is bottled poetry” – Robert Louis Stevenson
As I sit here watching the Packers vs. 49ers playoff game in my living room with a glass of my favorite red, I realize how much I truly enjoy the simple things in life. Simple things like a free afternoon, a warm blanket and, of course, good wine. And yes, the best part is the wine. What is it, though, that truly makes wine so pleasing to our senses? To me, its a collection of many, many factors, but despite the countless times the question has been proposed to me, this is the first time I’ve actually explained why the hell I like wine so much. Here it goes.
First of all, I’ll address the obvious. There is, if you didn’t already know, alcohol in wine. And yes, I do enjoy that aspect. People that say the “after effect” of a glass of wine has nothing to do with its overall enjoyment are either lying to you or themselves. Either way, it’s ridiculous. Recently, I saw Jimmy Fallon live at The Paramount Theatre in Seattle where he performed his famous “Thank You Notes” sketch. One memorable note read, “Thank you, wineries…for making my alcoholism seem like a really cool hobby”. I laughed so hard!…then started to cry. Kidding, of course. But in all honesty, would wine really be as popular if it did not contain its traditional “after effect?” Personally, I think it’s the perfect drink. I can’t find any other alcohol that makes me feel as relaxed and calm while still invoking such a passion for conversation and community. It’s the perfect supper sipper (hell, it’s a good before and after supper sipper too) and is always the best item to bring to any social gathering. I’m not saying send over the Intervention TV crew, but without addressing the obvious, this little explanation would be less believable.
Okay, now on to the explanation I give all my uppity friends. Wine really does hold a unique place in the world of beverages. Its the only alcohol that does not need to be boiled in production and has some of the best ageing capabilities as it dances with oxygen over time. Its ability to harness the true characteristics of its growing terroir and specific grape variety from which it came is incredible and incomparable. No other beverage can balance alcohol, acidity, and sweetness so perfectly. With wine, it’s all about harmony- harmony within itself, harmony between you and the glass, and harmony between you and the people you’ll meet while sipping. The subculture that is wine ultimately introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. You all know who are. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about people who appreciate wine, but there is certainly something special about them.
As production goes, wine is a beautiful blend of science and art. I once heard a colleague say, “the closest sibling to wine is cooking!” and I completely agree. Great chefs meticulously and methodically add ingredients to layer flavors for any complete dish. The same goes for winemakers. This is where the science and art meet. On one hand you need the chemistry background and knowhow to ensure a quality fermentation and maturation period, but on the other hand, you still need to craft a good drink that expresses your unique style. At the end the day, winemakers never make A wine, they make THEIR wine. Even the worst wine is a masterpiece.
As cliché as it sounds, I could go on forever. But these are reasons that people seem to except. Realistically, there will always be a certain mystery behind wines perceived superiority and overall popularity. Sometimes, you need to stop asking why and just drink the damn thing. You won’t regret it. Well, occasionally you can have too much of a good thing. But, we’re professionals, right? Cheers!
Drink Northwest Cellars.