In Wine, I Now Know How Atlas Felt

The challenge of doing the fine work of dissecting the aromas and flavors of wine is also the joy.

As a non-novice wine drinker, previous attempts to describe the tasting experience were limited to whether my eyes closed and rolled back in my head when I drank a great Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, unable (or perhaps, unwilling) to describe the depth of what I drank.

As a newbie to the discriminating work of wine tasting, I am literally feeling my way IMAG2156through the complex (and revelatory) viticultural world.  So, while those steely, minerally white Sauvignon Blancs continue to call my name, I now hear the whisper of clean Albarinos, roundly balanced Pinot Gris and chocolately Baco Noir.  So goes Oenology and Viticulture at the Oregon Culinary Institute.

In reading the text about American wine consumption, I now know how Atlas felt. “Approximately one-third of the U.S. population doesn’t drink alcohol at all.  Of the remaining two-thirds, a little more than half are defined as regular wine drinkers, with the definition of regular being one glass of per week.  Yet, the dedicated wine drinker in the United States drinks one glass of wine, sometimes two or three, per day.

IMAG2149“By some estimates, however, as much as 90% of all the wine consumed in the United States is consumed by less than 15% of the wine-drinking population, which means that a small core of wine drinkers are consuming not one bottle per month, but a bottle of wine per week, if not more.”

Dedication has its responsibilities.  I am carrying the weight of most of the country on my shoulders.

So, on my way to the gym in The Pearl at 7:00a, my eyes fall through the windows not to the vegetables, but to the Malbec as Whole Foods opens its eyes for the day.  I wonder about the taste sensations, and whether the color is a filtered, clear garnet; how viscous the wine is and how long the legs last.  Whether the nose is of cherry or red currant or cranberry.  Whether the aroma lingers of dried fruit or pine or leather.  And whether the jammy taste finishes of Cassis or clove.

So after the lecture of AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) and sub-AVAs and pruning and dormancy and growing technique, what is left is the simple joy of wine made all the more wonderful by the sensual infusion of aroma and taste.  It’s the result of thousands of years of cultural experiment and contribution, the literal icing on the oenology cake.

I don’t mind carrying the weight.

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