Wednesday, November 07, 2007

You can never drink it again

Loving wine is about loss.

Flip the coin and you might also argue that loving wine is a voyage of discovery; every wine tasted - every single one, even brother bottles from the same case - is different, because it is tasted on a different day, at a different stage of its maturity, opened for a different length of time and sipped from different stemware with a different number of people imbibing it and different foodstuffs accompanying it, or not.

But this is why, to me, mélancolique de l'automne that I am, I see it also as a certain sense of loss. You can never wet the rim of your lip with the exact same 1990 Figeac or 2005 Thomas Sancerre Cuvée Spéciale. And that very first taste of Selosse Substance that had me laughing will have me sit back, maybe, at some future point, and furrow my brow, wipe my lip and take another bite of lobster bread pudding.

Wine is an alchemical substance more than a simple draught. It is a philter, and a filter for our experience and our emotions.

So maybe I should be glad it is so unrepeatable. I hate repetition.

I'm in no danger, here.


Gavin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gavin said...

I do not have the same feeling when I think of a great wine that shall never pass my lips again. I find the memory of those wines so strong that I can 'drink' them again and again, with just as much pleasure. In fact, they grow as my knowledge of wine grows and as I discuss them more and more with others who have drunk them too or who perhaps even made them.

Neil said...

You can't step into the same bottle twice?

Let's hope they're always different. Cracked open a Trimbach Fred Emile 2003 Riesling. Woooh but this is going to be a cracking wine 15 years from now. But now, it's so tightly closed. Powerfully mineral, sheer stone, lingering sourness, a whisper of petrol, cardamom and smoke and it's gone. Pure, bone-dry, not a trace of the "ample-ness" of the vintage. Please do not disturb until 2022.

Rajiv said...

Beautiful. I have been trying to "keep" the wine as a memory, but with such a complex, multifaceted experience, it is very difficult for a beginning drinker.

Has a bottle of wine ever instantly put you back in the memory of the first time you tasted it?

Gavin said...

Rajiv: Yes, it has. Generally speaking, Burgundy and Champagne do this to me. There are two ways it happens. If the taste is consistent with the previous time, it... confirms my experience of it at the time and I recall where I was, what I was doing when I drank it. Krug Grande Cuvée always seems to do this for me, because it is a very special champagne, I have drunk it all over the world, usually at special occasions. The flavour is very consistent and unique.

More interesting is when a wine evokes some feeling inside you that you weren't consciously looking for. It is more emotional. For me, it is usually the great wines of Bourgogne which do this.

This is not something I tried to achieve in wine tasting. After studying wine very closely for some years, I stopped thinking about it as technically and now just try to let the sensation of be felt.