Notes from the Cellar: Seven squared

by Jeff Cox, Wine and Beer Merchandiser

This article was originally published in March 2008

“Wine improves with age, I like it more the older I get.”
— Anonymous

After a couple of glasses, there comes a crossroads. It’s the moment when the wine reaches full blossom, its perfume telling tales of geologic time and of a single rotation around the sun; of flowering and decay; generations of seasons unfolding in the tapestry of aromas that make up the harvest in one bottle.

It’s the moment when you realize that even if the bottle’s half full, it’s still only just half — and soon it will be gone. As delicious as it is, it’s all the more enchanting because of its eventual, inevitable passing.

I’m two days shy of 49 as I write, about to embark on my 50th trip around the sun, the last time I get to do it and still be forty-something. While I’m aware that the numbers are abstractions, I’m nonetheless a westerner in a material world and halfway to a hundred feels like a milestone. It gets me thinking.

Back when my dreams were as big as my hair, I could tilt at the biggest of windmills armed with nothing but shining ideals and righteous rage. When my quixotic skirmishes left me with dented pride and an ego in tatters, I was assured by those with the benefit of an “adult” perspective that it would all pass once I got around to growing up.

I would discover that idealisms are luxuries — for radicals and trust-fund lefties — and that carving out a comfortable niche in the food chain means learning to live with the established order of things.

I don’t doubt the veracity of those words or the good intent, but maybe I never got around to growing up. The rage and the ideals burn ever more fiercely. Granted, I’ve learned to pick my battles and know that a raised voice and a clenched fist do little to demonstrate the finer points of an argument.

Still, when you’ve caught Oz behind the curtain or seen the emperor naked, you just can’t erase the video. Nor can you forget the magic carpet ride of aroma, taste and enchantment that reveal themselves when you simply look — and stop looking to be blown away. In the long run, eloquence and poise always will trump sheer might.

In vino veritas. Wine is a great metaphor for just about everything and sharing the truths you’ve discovered is like introducing someone to the nuances of a great Burgundy: Not easily done and not so much about teaching as it is about letting someone discover their own palate.

Onward. There’s little to be gained by poring over yesterday’s bottles in the recycling, little more for anticipating next week’s. Especially when the glass at today’s table is half full.

Also in this issue

News bites, March 2008

Church says cut carbon for Lent, USDA asked to halt Canadian meat imports, GM sugar beet lawsuit, and more

Letters to the editor, March 2008

Fan letters; Agriculture in a changing climate; Organic bacon, organic salami; and more