Today I want to talk about a concept that I touched on in the last blog; the idea that wine needs to be drunk in context. Don’t go running for your wine dictionary or Wikipedia, I don’t think you’ll find the term. I’m just developing the framework now because, well, it’s my blog and I get to do things like that. Context is defined as, “the part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines it’s meaning,” or more plainly, “the circumstances in which as event occurs; a setting.”
When all is said and done–and trust me, more will be said than done–wine is just a beverage. The people reading this who love wine just went into shock, and if you are currently convulsing on the floor I’m sorry, I should have given more warning, and I feel your pain. However, the statement is true. It was developed historically because the water supply around most human settlements quickly became questionable because, to put it plainly, humans are lazy and pooped where they lived. So instead of better hygiene we opted for an intoxicating beverage made from grapes. Far better to get drunk and forget where we put the keys to the castle then to dig a privy. And what better thing to do with our extra time from not digging latrines then spend the next 800 years learning how to make better wine and telling even more fantastic stories about how we did it!
Enter the concept of context. Our first form of context is food. Wine does taste better when consumed with food and food tastes better when eaten with wine. A good example is white wine with fish or red wine with beef. Why? That guy probably had a blog too and it stuck! In truth, fish actually does taste better with white wine most of the time, but not always. It depends entirely on the wine and upon the fish; i.e. context.
Marketing helps contribute to the way we approach our wines. Laws that assign particular times, places, and reasons for drinking wine have occurred throughout human history, and only adds to the suspense. Going to a party? Get the bottle with the happy kangaroo with the yellow tail. Wife or girlfriend making a “special” dinner? Head straight to the supercharged high-alcohol California or Australian reds for a night she’ll never remember…I mean forget. Looking for a gift for the Boss? Nothing says “notice me and my brown nose” more than a over priced Bordeaux. What drives our wine selections gives that bottle it’s context.
The next concept we will touch upon is socialization. Wine tastes better when consumed with friends, so civilized human beings invented a time where people could all get together to loudly complain about work, quietly complain about spouses, critique their government, lie about how important they were, and lament about how misunderstood and miserable we as a society felt. We called it “Happy Hour.” Why? You guest it, that guy had a blog too and it stuck! However, you’ll all agree that wine does taste better when we drink it with other people. Socialization takes the edge off of life, and makes us feel less alone in the world. Ironically enough, so will a few glasses of wine.
So, what about when you have a mediocre wine; not bad, but not great, what do you do? Tell a great story. In the John Ford classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when Jimmy Stewart admits that it was John Wayne and not he who shot Liberty Valance, the reporter exclaims, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Much of human history is popular fiction, and the Romans, Greeks, Monks, Kings, Popes, movie stars, singers, athletes, battles, sex, neat labels, and great name have all lent their names to keeping even the most boring wines en vogue for centuries. Their legacies help in setting the context.
Well, I think it’s time to talk about wine, and specifically this week we are talking about the Meridion par Piette Perrin 2011. A tasty red wine wine from Cotes-du-Rhone which I enjoyed alone in my backyard by the fire pit after a week of aggravation, it features a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan and Syrah grapes. The Meridion is unoaked, which was an enjoyable surprise. A nice aroma, which stood up to both my Grandson’s celebratory Alec Bradley It’s a Boy toro and the wood fire, wafted across on the Connecticut Autumn breeze. The taste was great: a mood altering black cherry, nice chewy tannins, and a long, smooth finish.
So, what’s the hook? Read the label, who made the wine? Jean and Francois Perrin. These are the winemakers behind the wines of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They are Decanter’s Men of the Year, rock star winemakers whose work luckily found it’s way to me! And that is the context of this wine!