10 interesting things about wine

Port_wine2There are definitely more than 10 interesting things about wine. But here is a compilation that everyone might find fascinating and enlightening. Great quotes, further highlighting some of the most interesting things about wine, offer an exciting way to begin a wine centric article.

“In wine, there’s truth.”

Pliny the Elder, Natural History

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”

Ernest Hemingway

Wine is something that a person is passionate about. Last weekend, Jeff Fink of Fink Family Vineyards and I debated about the reason wine is so special. Both of us have observed wine’s emotional impact on drinkers with much curiosity, fascination, and sometimes bewilderment.

What is it about wine that gets under people’s skin?

Independently, we came up with a similar theory about wine correlating with the span of human experience. People begin life as hopeful, exuberant and slightly awkward beings. In middle years, most people relax and seek harmony and balance. As one declines, there are often a few moments of brilliance. Towards the end, as one becomes wise, corresponding exhaustion sets in. Perhaps it’s this subconscious awareness that causes us to relate to wine like no other beverage.

Wine has always held enigmatic powers. For centuries wit, wisdom and hedonism defined wine. It has also carried an aura of mystery.

Some cultures have inherently embraced it, while some have shunned it. In this young country of ours, wine culture hadn’t taken hold of the average consumer until a few decades ago. Once it did, it became an occasional beverage for many, and an exemplary loyal endeavor for a select group of hard-core oenophiles, that is growing steadily in numbers. Overall, US per capita wine consumption has increased by 14% (compared to <1% in France!) in the last few years.

Moreover, there has been a palpable shift in the world of wine and food towards a more refined, degustation-style and artisanal approach, that is now being scaled by larger entities.

Wine and food have come a long way and are closer than ever. In that vein, wine food pairing is an obvious list item:

1. Coupling

Sure, there are beer pairings, sake pairings, cocktail ones, etc. However there is nothing like wine. A great dish and a great glass of wine is like a strong couple with each individual bringing unique merits to the table. In other words, 1+1 becomes 3.

2. Range of possibilities

Wine, unlike any other beverage, has an unparalleled flavor range. From light and effervescent, to intense, raw and nearly obscene, it has it all.

3. Life

Wine is a living, breathing thing. If you hold on to it in your cellar, it changes. In fact it changes right before your very eyes, over a course of an hour, or an evening, right in your glass. Nothing else does that.

4. Purity

Wine cannot be mixed, blended, whipped or manipulated after bottling to add flavor, character, or personality. It stands on its own.

5. Healthfulness

Wine can have many health benefits in preventing  diabetes, heart disease, cancer, age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and even promotes longevity. In the next five years, scientists will create a new medication based on reservatrol, a substance contained in red wine. It is said to be able to extend life expectancy to a whopping 150 years!

6. Emotion

Whether you are a hardcore wine geek or a novice, wine guarantees to inspire passion. Good wine has an uncanny ability to cause a person to emotionally attach to it. Just watch the patron’s eyes roll back in their head at the next dinner, or a sommelier discreetly quietly petting a special bottle. Those are not intellectual exercises, they come from emotion.

7. Storytelling

Wine is a story, that transports you into a different realm, poetry, or prose. Each individual can decide, but it’s a revelation either way.

8. Matchmaker

Wine is a great social facilitator. Many people have witnessed how wine turns a group of strangers into new minted BWFFs (Best Wine Friends Forever).

9. A valued experience

One of the most notable, highly sought after growers, Gary Pisoni recognized it early. When trying to convince his Dad to grow grapes instead of vegetables, he asked: “Dad, do you know anyone who would want to pay $250/plate for a lettuce dinner?” Those words were prophetic. Today $250 is an average you would spend at a high-end restaurant for a wine and food pairing, and patrons are happy to pay for the right experience.

Conversely, some wines sell for thousands on open markets, and auctions. Ever hear of a head of lettuce going for $10K?

10. Loyalty

Like a good friend, great wine will never let you down. It will be there for you on a random lonely Tuesday night or snowy Wednesday afternoon. After a gut wrenching breakup, or to celebrate a promotion that’s richly deserved. You can share your secrets, confessions and laugh with or at yourself over a glass of wine.

Frankly, I can make all sorts of reasonable arguments about the benefits of loving and living in the wine world. Yet all of them would be relatively meaningless in the face of sitting down to a wonderful meal with a glass of wine in hand, with a friend or lover, looking at them from across the table, and feeling euphoric bliss.

So here is to 150 years of palate-roaring, soul-moving wine adventures – Cheers!

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Ilona Thompson
Ilona grew up in St Petersburg. Awestruck by the beauty of Napa Valley, she moved to SF Bay Area to pursue her undeniable passion for food & wine. She spends a lion's share of her time traveling California wine regions and attending a wide variety of diverse tastings held in San Francisco. She knows her way around some of the most prestigious & exclusive wine & food events in the country. Her inner wine geek led her inside the cellars of highly notable, sought after, elusive, fascinating wineries in California. Follow her whirlwind adventures on twitter @PalateXposure


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  • SMBrenner

    I love this! Very nice job, Ilona.