I believe every person can be knowledgeable and comfortable in any social environment by understanding the basic aspects of wine. For the next six days I will write posts, each of which will cover a different aspect of this sacramental drink. Here is the introduction.
On our first sojourn to the verdant hillsides of Tuscany, Italy, Chris and I walked up to an ancient gate guarding a burnt sienna estate that looked thousands of years old. As the hollow sound of my knock echoed through the rolling valley beyond, a small older man came shuffling up to answer. The ancient winery we entered was located just outside Castellina in Chianti, and the man that greeted us was Mario, the owner and viticulturist. A viticulturist is one who cultivates grapevines and grape-growing.
As we passed through the ancient gates into the vineyard, the next two hours can only be described as transcendent. Mario transported us into an ancient world before fermentation and high-tech bottling plants, and introduced us to wine-making thousands of years ago much like the Etruscans for which his winery was named. The Rietine winery is exactly what one pictures when they think of an ancient wine cellar complete with hundred year old barrels and ancient wine-making techniques, and yes, even cobwebs around unlabeled grayish-blue bottles of very old wine.
Mario passionately described the joys, and sorrows, of growing grapes while depending on mother nature to behave and do her part. His eyed filled with tears as he told us about the thanksgiving celebration with all his workers that occurs at Rietine when the harvest is complete.
That first visit to fattoria di Rietine (and Italy) helped wine and wine growing come alive to Chris and me. Through the love and passion of Mario, we realized there was far more to this life-giving liquid than the misleading deception our Baptist upbringing had led us to believe. Wine, like all good things, has been given to us by a gracious God for our pleasure.
The ability to be comfortable with anything begins with the basics (or aspects) of that thing. With wine – the capacity for pleasure – the capacity to be thrilled by the complexities of wine is interwoven with understanding wine in all its most basic, naked aspects.
In the next post, I will talk about the first aspect of wine. The Aspect of Assessment.