Saturday, February 28, 2009
Wine with others, wine alone
Everyone has a different idea of which things in one's life one does alone and which must be done with others. Sometimes it seems to me that the variations and possibilities are as broad and manifold as the different types of likes and aversions in enjoying food. So, as it happens, just as I like every foodstuff on the planet except dill and bananas (as a fairly newfound convert to previously disliked Comté cheese and vin jaune; merci Philippe!), I am someone who prefers to go to the movies alone. I am someone who would rather enter a restaurant after someone else. I don't like to talk on the phone.
But what about drinking wine? Is the experience perceptually different when the wine is shared as opposed to when it's drunk in contemplative solitude?
So much is made of the difference between drinking wine in situ – with a meal, with other wine lovers – and sipping and spitting at a tasting. Different wines prevail; enjoyment factors and levels are tweaked, skewed and become unrecognizable from one platform to the other.
But what of the human context? If I open, say, a 2000 Rousseau Chambertin* for my own self in the privacy of my own living room with nice stemware and some food I've prepared with care, am I missing out on something?
My thought, my gut reaction, is: yes. Being able to share impressions and enthusiasms with someone or a group of friends is very important to the experience of wine drinking. Something is lost when there is no echo, no quick glance, no shared smile, no nod.
So my new stance will be, if ever I should find myself eating alone and wanting a glass to pair with the meal, to choose something novel; to make it a learning experience. But not to try for enthrallment, for emotion.
It's good to scale back, sometimes.
Now, to head out to a big wine-geek dinner. Thank god there are others of us out there!
*The cool thing about hypotheticals is that you can go as high-end as you want. And the 2000 Rousseau Chambertin is a damn lovely wine.