Wine as an intellectual exercise.
Wine does taste delicious and has provided refreshment and libation for centuries. Wine is nothing more than bottled farming. The only difference between oranges and wine is the process of fermentation. Why then do fermented grapes inspire such devotion and overall nerdiness? It must have something to do with the effects that fermentation has on the brain. Let us then explore the idea of wine as a mental exercise.
A wine that inspires quiet contemplation is something indeed. I recently had a wine that did/does just that. The 2008 Donkey & Goat Roussanne. This is a white wine grape from the northern portion of the Rhone wine region in France. The grape is notoriously hard to grow as well as work with in the winery. This only adds to the chin scratching after each sip. Why would someone attempt to grow this grape then make something delicious out of it when there are other grapes that are easier to grow and manipulate? Why would someone climb the highest mountain when they probably live near a fairly well sized hill? Because, we as humans can and want to always push for something.
The first sip of the Donkey & Goat Roussanne presents a crosswords worth of riddles and possibilities. Five across – Lemon. Eleven down – honeysuckle. One swallow and already a puzzle?
The wine beguiles with such fresh fruit up front, such creaminess in the middle and the most toasted nuttiness to finish. How could one thing be so many things?
This question begs the question, should wine be mental exercise? Should you spend more than a moment pouring over each nook and cranny of a wine? Is it silly to examine a wine and seek out something new or unexplored? Oh so very Lewis & Clark like. Can drinking a wine be something that stretches your imagination, inspires the desire for greater understanding of how it came to be so delicious? Can a wine literally be described as “transcending?” Should leisurely playing with a plastic toy test your brain power and become a world wide measurement of acumen?
I say yes on both accounts. Wine is a pretty neat thing and on occasion (Looking for subtle nuances and the secret meaning of life in the tepid glass of red wine being served at your cousin Henry's wedding reception at the Moose Lodge is silly.) metaphysically delving into a glass of wine and taking a look around is worth while. Having your preconceptions challenged and expanding your opinions is what makes life interesting. So if you can do that while enjoying a lovely libation, I say by all means nerd out on that glass of wine. The next great American novel might be in there floating around.