Conundrum

1: a riddle whose answer is or involves a pun 2: a : a question or problem having only a conjectural answer b : an intricate and difficult problem 3: a very good red or white wine blend Charlie Wagner, the maker of Conundrum, shows me that he truly understands wine by using the name Conundrum, because the basic nature of wine is unknowable, hence it’s a conundrum. I’ll explore this more, but right now let’s explore the wine. Conundrum comes in two versions, a red and a white. Today we’re going to focus on Conundrum red and save the white for another post. The color is a clever purple-red. The bubbly purple reminded me of the Quilceda Creek, which I would call a great complement to this $20 bottle of wine. I was a little disappointed with the nose, thought it could have been a little more pronounced and firmer. Other people at diner thought it was fine. The taste was great and paired well with my grilled steak. It’s a little sweet to start, then opens so you can taste the tannins, and caps off with nice finish. You get the mandatory red fruits that make California, well, California. Wagner doesn’t tell you the blend, but rather he leaves you guessing on your own. They have been making the white for about twenty years, but this is only the second year for the red. I’d say well done, keep up the good work. Reviewing the Conundrum wine allows me to address the number one question I get about wine, “what do I need to know about wine to drink it?” I have heard this so many times, “wine is difficult, wine is too complex,” or, “you need to know too much stuff to drink wine.” BUNK! Wine exists for only one reason, to bring the partaker pleasure. That’s what it’s all about. Not complicated, intellectual, or difficult. Do you know why Consumer Reports doesn’t do wine reviews, because you can’t quantify wine, despite what Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator says. It’s not a computer, it has no micro-processor speed you can check or measure. It doesn’t do zero to 60 in anything, it just sits there until someone decides to open it and drink. The only way you can measure a wine is how it makes you feel. What emotions, if any, do you experience? Have you ever walked through a museum and seen the artwork rated on a scale of 100 points? Wow, that Rembrandt is a 95, but Picasso only got an 88. Never, ain’t going to happen. Can you understand the Mona Lisa by being told about the canvas that it is painted on, the number of brush strokes, or that there are 17 shades of gray used? Nope! How about your favorite piece of music, do you care about the key, time signature, or the number of notes, or sharps, or flats? Didn’t think so, what you care about is how the lyrics, melody or beat makes you feel. Not complicated, don’t need to know a thing about music theory or paint style in order to enjoy music or art. Same thing with wine. Now if you love music, that passion for music might lead you to learn an instrument, how to read music, maybe take some classes on composition. If art is your thing you might learn about water colors, oil paints, or sculpture, but would you say you need any of that stuff to enjoy art or music? No. The same is true of wine. Knowing the grape, how long it was fermented, if the season had been dry or wet, if they picked early or late, or if they aged in oak and, if so, what size barrel, is all cool information but it will not really tell you a damn thing about the wine. Get a corkscrew, open the bottle, and drink. Bam! You’re a Connoisseur. Drink a 100 and you’re an expert, or a drunk. If you like wine, you’ll learn the other stuff just to increase your knowledge and enjoyment. With my eyes closed I can’t tell one wine from another, and I have no intention of memorizing 4,000 flashcards like the guys in the movie SOMM. I’m here for the fun, not the trivia! I don’t want to spend four minutes with a glass of wine; see, swirl, sniff, sip, slurp, and spit then tell the the world what a great wine that was. That’s like spending 40 seconds listening to a song saying it’s got a good beat you can dance to it I’ll give it a 85. Hell no! I want at least a bottle. I want a meal and I want friends, and conversation and I want time, in fact I’d like a case of the wine and years to drink it. You never drink the same wine twice, wine is alive and changing. The only certainty about wine is it’s elusive. Approach wine from any angle, analyse it intuitively scientifically, historically, economically, or literally, and if we are honest, we have just our impression, because wine is never completely knowable. To paraphrase “Forrest Gump” Life is like a bottle of wine, you never know what you got until you open the bottle and drink.

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