Trees of green, red roses, friends shaking hands, “I love you”—and I think to myself, what a wonderful world. There are lots of reasons to wax poetic now that we’re steeped in the summer months like a sidewalk sun tea of friends and lazy heat-soaked afternoons. But for me, wine has to be at the top of my “Wonderful World” list. I know, I know—this makes me out to be somewhat of a lush. Well, Benjamin Franklin said, “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.” Wise man, Mr. Franklin. Argue with Ben.
When you live in Arizona, summer is first about the heat. We don’t mind, though, because cold beverages are a necessity in the desert. Everyone has their favorite: lemonade and tea, beer, cocktails—plenty of ice. And then there’s wine.
Why wine for Ms. Ellie?
When I started my journey of discovering wine, I was not a fan of white or rose wines. Hell, I wasn’t really even a fan of wine. For all you wine drinkers out there, you understand, somewhat, the interesting journey of discovering the flavors and nuances of wine. We all started our wine journey someplace. For all you wanna-be wine drinkers, persevere. It’s worth it.
For me, when I had my moment of being convinced of wine, I was about 23. I wanted to like wine, I knew I “SHOULD” like wine. But, every time I had it, I found myself frustrated because I felt it should taste different than it did. I can remember where I was sitting the day my epiphany with wine happened. It was on an old second-hand couch with color patterns of brown and orange with a sort of country scene on it, god awful, but the fabric could wear through a millennium, kinda like Barco fabric, if any of you out there remember THOSE days. Anyway, there I was, glass of red wine in hand. (Charles Krug, to be exact, when Charles Krug was more affordable wine.) And all I could think was, “Geez, how’m I gonna get through this glass of wine?” A dilemma I often had in such scenarios. Then the thought came to me, “Uhm, thousands of years of people who’ve loved wine don’t lie. If this was a nasty drink that people drank only to be pretentious, someone would have cried ‘the emperor has no clothes’ by now.” Then, I realized, “Ellie, you want wine to taste different than it does.” And then, on the heels of that thought, “Ok, so, I’m resisting the flavors and thus, rejecting the possibility of ever really enjoying it.” As I sat there and mulled this over for a moment, I realized what I needed to do. I would suspend all previous expectation, thoughts, or preconceived notions and merely allow this red liquid to flow over my tongue, swish it around in my mouth, and open my mind so my palate could register the flavors that were there. And this I did. I can still remember the oak in the wine, how my palate dried out and the dry fruity flavor of the wine. (These are classic Cabernet Sauvignon traits.) As I opened myself to taste it all, I opened myself to accepting the flavors as they were. I drank the whole glass in this mode. By the time I was finished, I was forever changed. It was in that moment I became a fan of red wine. I finally “got it.” (Becoming a fan of white and rosé wines came later.) I will always carry this moment with me. From that moment, I became more and more intrigued by wine. And I never looked back.
Wine has done nothing but enhance my life. Yes, my pocket book doesn’t look so grand, but the trade off is worth it. And there’s an adventure in every bottle. Every time I try a bottle I’ve never tasted, there’s a flutter of anticipation for the story to be told.
Wine is about…. friends, good conversation, tripping the world via the wine glass, new delicious discoveries just a cork pop away, rich heritages, and interesting stories about human struggle and perseverance. In the words of Jack Handey, “Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink, I feel shame! Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the vineyards and all their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this wine, they would be out of work, and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, ‘It is better that I drink this wine and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.’” So, keep tasting, friends! Wine is a catalyst for so many things, and not last “la belle vie.”