10 November 2007

10Nov. A rambling text on expensive wine, the nature of generosity and so on.

"The price is, of course, quite out there but the more expensive wine I'm lucky enough to taste the more warranted these prices seem. I've never heard a bad thing about this wine and I've never had the pleasure. If it were my money I'd be inclined to spend it on Bordeaux but if I were to receive it I would definitely be incredibly excited. I've enjoyed some (much cheaper) wines from the Northern Rhone that inspired this (Hermitage. All syrah) and have been very impressed with how much is going on in there. So yes, I agree that a wine-lover (one who enjoys great wines for their greatness, not necessarily for their regions or styles) would be crazy about it.

But if you're dealing with somebody who is just starting out with wines I'd be afraid that the nuances might go over their head. I believe in leading up to great wine by learning on good wine. The more experience the greater the articulation which I think leads to a greater appreciation. Or, to put it another way, all the little things that make great sex great sex would be lost on a virgin. It may be fantastic, but without the experience to appreciate the effort...well...
that's my take on it. "

Such was how I responded to a friend of mine who'd sent me an article in the WSJ about Penfold's mighty Grange and how it was the ultimate gift for the wine lover, wine devotee or those interested in wine this season.

but I've rethought it a bit and now I'm not sure whether it's as clear as I vaguely described. Before I put the effort into my wine education I'd been exposed to several very nice wines. That is to say, before I would consider myself ready. Was that a waste of wine? I certainly don't think so but I do sort of regret that I wasn't able to enjoy them for what that were. I certainly hope that the people who shared these wines with me don't regret having done so if I couldn't eke out all that I could. I mean, to some degree I still don't think I was fully qualified to go to Pinot Camp but the thing that I do have is a genuine passion to learn more. Which, in part, was fueled by tasting outstanding wine and wanting to experience that again. So, in a way, all those who have brought in a stellar bottle of wine to share with me have directly influenced the quality of the current, and future, wine selections at Baan Sawan and future projects.
So. Is it a good idea to buy somebody who knows little about wine a remarkable, and expensive, bottle? If I say "no" with the reasoning that they won't fully appreciate it then I turn my back on the possibility that experiencing that wine might be epiphanic and drive the recipient to explore and learn and, ultimately, pass on their knowledge and wines to others to continue the cycle. Which is good. Or they might wait until they're drunk to chug it and waste it entirely. Which is bad.
At the end of the day, I suppose, we are talking about a gift. And what they do with it or how they appreciate it shouldn't concern us too much. A favorite Sartre quote of mine is "...all which I give, I enjoy in a higher manner through the fact that I give it away. To give is to enjoy possessively the object which one gives." He seemed to say this almost dismissively, as though it diminished the generosity itself. I don't think that's necessarily true. While it may not be "cool" to admit it, I revel in my petite bourgeoisie materialism. I don't have a lot but I enjoy what I do have and part of having is sharing, which illustrates that I have that which I'm sharing. This doesn't have to be bad. I'm not an ass about it but I do like to be able to give. And it helps that I'm constantly humbled by my meager income. And I do so love to educate and be educated.
Anyway. I've digressed, to some degree.
I suppose what I'm saying is that I now think that a gift of Grange, if you can afford it, would be a wonderful gift for anybody with a genuine interest in wine, experience notwithstanding.

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