In the V-Know
Some years ago, I wrote an article for The Oxford Eagle entitled, “The Importance of Gathering Around Wine.” After a long hiatus, for the premier article for my new gig writing about wine and life – wine isn’t just a beverage, it’s a lifestyle – I wanted to pick up on that theme from a slightly different perspective.
As social beings, we have a genetic tendency to congregate. So fundamental is this urge to gather we have codified it as a right in our Constitution. We gather along religious and political lines, ethnicity, by professions and hobbies, gender, the types of cars we drive, the kinds of computers we use, and even by what we drink. As with so many other human endeavors, joining others with a common interest in wine to share perspectives and experiences greatly enhances one’s understanding and enjoyment of it.
Recalling that article, the notion of gathering around wine has taken on a new meaning for me, that is, it also implies staying connected as our personal universes tend to keep expanding. This creates a challenge for us who counted those people who have physically moved among our wine gathering support friends.
It is amazing how time flies. All of my friends, wine, whiskey, and beer drinkers alike, have all grown older with me. But keeping up with them takes a level of dedication, and for me it isn’t possible or practical to jump in the car or on a plane every time I want to catch up with them and share a bottle of something while talking about the good ol’ times. The big question is whether those times really were that much simpler, or were we just not paying attention?
This time of year tends to bring this need for connections into a much sharper focus for me. So that is why I have resolved over the last couple of years to make a concerted effort to connect with far flung friends and family, if not in person, then through the many avenues offered by social media.
But what brought this into microscopic focus for me more than anything else was an hour-long phone conversation with one of my very best wine buddies who moved away to Florida for the job offer of a lifetime. I miss him and his wife’s companionship immensely, their humor, wine knowledge and appreciation, and not to mention their fabulous wine dinners. Anybody who can manage to get a whole emu leg into his smoker and then find the perfect sides and wines to go with it is a great friend, indeed, and worth hanging on to.
The point of all this is that toward the end of our conversation it occurred to me that we could have been multitasking the entire time by sharing a bottle of something really, really good while we were catching up. Even close to 700 miles apart. At that point we resolved to try to keep in touch monthly to share updates while sharing a bottle of wine while on the phone, via Skype, whatever. And we immediately came up with a lot of variations on that theme, for example, compare the same wine to see if there were regional bottle variations, examine the differences between the same wine but different vintages, or the selection two wines we have discovered that are very different to discuss their individual merits.
There are endless options to this strategy. In fact, this could easily be done with a whole group of people by way of a conference call. Wouldn’t that be a hoot. While not a great substitute for the real in-person thing, it sure beats drinking alone wishing so and so was there to enjoy your latest find with you.
Maybe this sort of staying connected with other folks could help reduce some of the rampant animosity that seems to pervade so much of our culture these days, even if it is just one or two relationships at a time. A close wine friend in Europe asked me the other day whatever happened to the idea of “Christmas serenity,” because it seems that in so many places around the world that phrase now sort of sounds like an oxymoron. Maybe more gathering around wine can bring back a bit of civility to our own little worlds if not the larger one we inhabit.
Cheers and serenity.