Thursday, July 05, 2012

Carrying water, waiting for the wine

Wine, frozen in time, that’s what all those bottles in the cellar turned out to be. And like our friends and family and life in general they are subject to a constant barrage of elements resulting in a permanent state of change. Think of a wine cellar (or closet) as a laboratory of change in which the wines stored will surprise, delight, disappoint and occasionally be opened at the very perfect moment they were meant to be.

Like my fig tree outside in the back. Three days ago some of the figs were ready. Now some other ones are. But the ones that were ready three days ago and didn’t get picked, now are suffering, oxidized and cooked from sitting under high temps for days. Then under a leaf in the blazing noon day a little fig will poke their head out and you will pick it and it will be cool inside. Much like wine.

What has surprised me in my closet? In the summer I tend to drink more white so the closet sits there humming and trying to stay cool. Meanwhile inside the red wines conjure and plot, trying to escape. If only I had more people around with which to share them.

Carrying water, waiting for the wine. Outside we turn to problems, like how to sell more Prosecco or Soave. More Chianti, draw it up, serve it, carry it, sling it, and go back for more. Like little kinetic stone statues. So many of us, drawing water, carrying it to the river, to the sea, to the ocean. Life as it is, in this passage and in every circumstance. Accompanied by constant change, humming, drumming, tapping, relentless.

How many children dream of the time when they will be free from the stone stillness of childhood? And then they arrive to that point, where they are no longer young. And then they want to go back to the time when they had no memory of being old or young – just being. Do the wines in the cellar dream these dreams? And when they age do they like aging, like we like aged wines? Are some wines better to rob at the cradle, not just for the sake of our pleasure but for the spirit that dwells within the bottle? I wonder these things on a hot summer day. It’s what summer is for.

Still, I peek inside and look for that one bottle. Maybe the Barbaresco is finally ready. Maybe it is far gone. That experimental Cabernet from the Maremma, before these things went in (and out of) fashion. The 30 year old bottle of Vin Santo, which holds more memories as an unopened bottle than it could ever deliver once opened. All those old bottles of Brunello before Montalcino was subjected to their own particular reality show, with scandal and shame. They rest, unknowing of what the world that has come after them has done. Better they never find out. Maybe never open those bottles, just to have a living record of something pure and beautiful and untainted by progress and greed and barrique and Merlot. Perhaps?

That bottle of Est!Est!!Est!!! from 1936, the year my parents were married. Now a rich tawny red, clear, amabile in style. How I’d love to know how that one tastes. But I also don’t want to be disappointed. There were joys and disappointments in 1936, in Italy and America. Better perhaps to wait, to carry the memory than more water? Just this once, just in summer. Just for now?


Brooklynguy said...

Very lovely, as usual, Mr. Cevola.

Alfonso Cevola said...

thanks, BWG!

Valerie said...

"Reds conjuring up a plot trying to escape..." so true as I turn to whites & Euro-pinks this unseasonably hot summer. Great piece!

Travel and Taste said...


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