A few weeks ago, I attended my first meeting of a local tasting group that I’ve helped set up with a co-worker. I met a bunch of interesting new people, and tasted a bunch of great wine, but that wasn’t what struck me. I’m new to town, so obviously I’m trying to meet people, make new friends, and see how I fit into the scene. I came away from that event mostly impressed at how young the crowd is (I felt old at 34), how fashionably dressed, what good taste in music they had.
Yesterday I was in a work meeting; the conversation was light-hearted, comfortable and familiar. The subject turned to the temporal nature of marriage. I’ve been in a relationship for fourteen years, I know all about this – sometimes you are totally in sync with your partner, and sometimes you’re just not getting along, those rough spots usually work themselves out with a little time. I didn’t add anything to the conversation though. It’s a cliché to point out that a gay guy has to come out to the people around him. I’m in a town and an industry that is not particularly adverse to same-sexuals – it’s just a matter of how to fit it in to the conversation.
Last week Wade and I celebrated Valentines Day. He made me a terrific meal (I cooked for him the night before, and well, I did move across country for him). We had pan seared quail, and rice pilaf, with a nice green salad and some cheese. I opened a bottle of 1996 Joël Taluau St Nicolas de Bourgeuil. It was fantastic! Mellow and earthy with age, dark in color yet light in weight – delicious with the quail. This is a wine that folks around here aren’t familiar with. The wines of the Loire are little know in Texas, and outside of most folks area of knowledge. It’s unclear at this point how the wines I love fit in here.
The point of all of this is that wine is just like all of the things that we love or just find important in our lives. When me meet new people or are in new situations, we’re looking for touchstones of familiarity. Does the guy sitting across the table from me like the same movies as I do? Is the music they’re playing at this party what I like to listen to? Can my coworkers relate to my family and my friends? We’re constantly trying to see how things fit together.
Just like all of these other areas of life, wine is not a “one size fits all” quantity. We all have our own tastes and experiences. We all use wine in different ways. The idea is not that wine is a product meant simply to be consumed; rather wine is a part of our lives, our communities, our culture. Just like great music, or an honest meal can bring people together, real wine can too. Just as we relate to our friends and families, we can relate wine.