“We met at nine,” “we met at eight,” “I was on time,” “no, you were late.”
“Ah, yes I remember it well.”
“We dined with friends,” “we dined alone,” “a tenor sang,” “a baritone.”
“Ah, yes I remember it well.”
If you are of a certain age, you will remember this charming duet that was captured on film of Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold in the Lerner and Lowe musical Gigi. The theme of the Monthly Wine Writers Challenge as proposed by the last winner Kent of “Appetite for Wine” is “Memory.” For a theme like this, most will automatically think of Memory from another play, but I guess that I am a different soul.
Does a wine lover need memory? Nowadays one can pull out their “smart” phone, punch in an app and get all sorts of information about a wine. Boring! A wine lover should have memories of wines, both good and bad, that he or she carries around in an old tattered portmanteau and hopefully the good memories far exceed the bad. Can an app convey the ethereal emotion of that taste or that nose of a wine? Of course, it can’t, it can give you the descriptors and terminology of others, but only a memory will remind you of what you should expect from a varietal in the hands of a craftsman. For years I rather cavalierly mistreated most Pinot Noir wines, because in my very early days I had the fortune to experience a Richebourg 1921. Was it fair and just of me, no it wasn’t, but there was always something in the back of my brain that reminded me of what a stellar Burgundy wine tasted like and by extension, what I expected from all Pinot Noir wines. It may be the same reason that I didn’t go ga-ga when I had the chance to try Screaming Eagle.
My brain is a maelstrom of memories and only a small percentage finally get to these pages. I think most of the wine lovers have the ability to remember the taste of a wine that they may have had years ago, though some only seem to have the ability of savoring of the moment. My Bride is always telling me that there are “left brain” people that are fully functional in society, but they are number oriented and not emotionally driven. Then there are the “right brain” people who are creative and probably emotional and driven by whimsy at times. Even memories, I guess are treated differently. Some can remember wines and vintages like grade school math by rote, but cannot gush about the wine except in descriptors that they know should be applied to the particular wine.
For me wine is a messy memory, because not only is that ethereal quality of taste and smell, but an attic full of matchbooks, menus and vistas. My greatest memories of wines are intricately woven with the moment. I think that is why I can smile about a bottle of Boones Farm NV with friends at the park when I was way underage to having a Chateau Latour 1961 that was too young when it was forty years old. As I look back in retrospect, wine was a part of the moment, albeit a delightful part. Some of the wines were awe-inspiring and some could be bought off the shelve at the corner market or party store. Can you remember that first bottle of Claret that changed your outlook of what wine could be? Can you remember that first real Chianti that didn’t have straw wrapped around the bottle, and if you can’t, then you missed the early days of wine.
One of my great memories of wine, didn’t even include wine, but my wine memories exploded after I met my Bride and that night was only cocktails and some great coffee. Most wine tastings are not nearly as memorable as the moment that everything just clicked, the food, the ambience and sometimes the wine was just ordinary, but it tasted wonderful and will forever have a higher score than what a wine magazine gave it.
“You wore a gown of gold,” “I was all in blue.”
“Am I getting old?” “Oh, no, not you.”
“How strong you were, how young and gay.”
“A prince of love in every way.”
“Ah, yes, I remember it well.”