The Pursuit of Happiness

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Our town has a celebrity that you may have heard of. His name is Wayne Carini and he has a Cable TV show called “Chasing Classic Cars” on the Velocity Channel. As the title sequence begins, in the opening line Wayne says this about the cars, “it’s all about the chase.” As the show goes on, he details why the car he is chasing is so significant: its history, performance characteristics, restoration details, and auction tactics and results.
It made me think, maybe I could start a cable TV show, Chasing Wines, but Wayne is often traveling all over the United States finding and restoring then selling cars valued at $300K to over a million dollars. With my budget made we’d get to an out of state wine store and two bottles of wine! Nope, without a sponsor I don’t think my “pursuit” would get too far. Hey Food Network, I’m cheap and I’m entertaining, give me a call!
This whole train of thought led me to this “pursuit of happiness” thing. Of course, the line is from Thomas Jefferson. Founding father, Third President, and wouldn’t you know it, the first American wine geek. He penned that line in The Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
If you subscribe to the John Locke interpretation of the “pursuit of happiness” then you would say Jefferson was talking about Property. I don’t disagree, but I do believe there is more.
Jefferson was also influenced by a 17th century cleric and philosopher, Richard Cumberland, who wrote that promoting the wellbeing of our fellow human beings is essential to the “pursuit of our own wellbeing.” Possibly this is an echo of Adam Smith’s invisible hand theory we often ignore when discussing Capitalism. William Wollaston in his book, “The Religion of Nature Delineated,” says, “the truest definition of Natural Religion is the Pursuit of Happiness by the practice of reason and truth.”
Okay Griffy, this sounds like Government 101, what has all of this got to do with Wine? Well, as Wayne says “it’s all about the chase.” For me the wine is all about reason and truth. I research, I learn about different wines, and then the chase is on to find those elusive bottles. I drink them, report the truth, and hopefully you readers then go make your own wine discoveries.
This week’s pursuit of happiness takes us to upstate New York, specifically the Finger Lakes Region, to Keuka Lake in Geneva. The Wine is Ravines, Dry Riesling 2012. One of my accomplishments for 2013 was to develop a taste for white wines, and let me tell you this was one of the best.
Clear sparkling yellow straw flows freely to my glass and releases a fantastic bouquet full of white lilies and pear. The taste pear and apple, very refreshing and incredibly good, dance gingerly on my palate and culminates in a nice, well-structured finish. I loved it!
A great wine for less than $20 a bottle, Ravines Dry Riesling was #33 on this year’s Wine Spector’s top 100. It is evidence that when you think Riesling, you should be thinking New York Finger Lakes. JPM, thank you for bringing me the bottle.
Someone will say I’m being political and pretentious with this blog. Political maybe, but pretentious? No way! Wine to me is more than just a drink, and if you watched and enjoyed the movie SOMM, you’ll understand what I saying. Wine is human history in a glass.
Pliny the Elder, said in Vino Veritas, “In wine is truth.” In Roman times, this was a way of saying “people can’t effectively lie when they drink.” Maybe wine should be served in Congress and the White House before any new law is passed, or perhaps candidates should hold debates while drunk. It would at least be more entertaining.

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