It’s been a while since my last ‘Wine Wisdom’, but I came across this tract again recently which I had originally typed out and posted on my Facebook page.
In this piece, wine writer Oz Clarke so succinctly and poetically encapsulates all that is good about wine and its capacity for pleasure and evocation, why we should drink it rather than taste it, enjoy it rather than study it, and why the people with whom you share wine is often more important than what’s in the bottle itself:
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“I didn’t set out to be a wine writer. I set out to be a wine drinker.
I didn’t set out to be a critic. I intended to be a hedonist scouring the world for flavours and smells, sucking them all in as much with my emotions as with my intellect. It’s not that I don’t like the intellectual demands of wine. I do. Indeed some wines seem better suited to cerebral rather than self-indulgent response.
But I’ve always wanted to put wines and their flavours into context. Not just the context of what wine goes with what food—sometimes you don’t want to eat, you just want to revel in the liquid unashamed. But also their sense of place. Where they came from, the culture and politics of their land, the character and foibles of their producers.
And then there’s who you drink them with. People often tell me of some fabled bottle they possess, that’s growing old and melancholy as they fret about what special occasion could possibly deserve it. So the wine dies. I just say, next time good friends turn up with smiles on their faces, fetch the bottle, pour large glasses and toast: here’s to health and happiness. Here’s to being alive.
People ask me about my most memorable bottles — and I have drunk my share of Lafites and Montrachets — but I think of friends, of lovers, of hopes and fears, sunsets, sunrise and deepest night. And, more than most, I think of an unlabelled bottle of prickly purple Tuscan red I drank in a sun-kissed meadow near Siena with a girl I adored, long, long ago…”