The Mystery of Wine #MWWC6

5 Jan

wine-stain1-2Last summer, the Drunken Cyclist proposed a wine writing challenge where wine bloggers are to write a post on a pre-selected theme. This has gone on for the past six months with winners proposing the next theme. I’ve participated when inspired and able to fit it in to my busy schedule (he says in all seriousness, while still in his housecoat at noon). This month the theme is Mystery. The entrants in this month’s challenge can be read by clicking here . My previous entries were light hearted with little attempt at seriousness. If you must, they can be found by clicking on Theme Posts on the right hand banner.This month, I decided to get a little more serious about the theme and its link to wine. I think that I’ve struck the right balance and am a possible contender to win the monthly prize. Will someone remind me what that is again? Nothing really beside satisfaction, pride, and the responsibility for next month’s theme, you say? Crap!

mysteryThe Mystery of Wine

Mystery. I love a mystery. The kind that you read in bed at the cottage – fun mysteries that you can’t put down until you turn the last page at 3:00 am, your wife sound asleep beside you. Smyla’s Sense of Snow, Agatha Christie, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Canoe Lake, ‘W’ is For Wino – those kind of mysteries – the ones that you solve.

Now wine; it’s a serious mystery. I mean, how do the juice, skins, and seeds of grapes become a beverage that’s consumed worldwide at a clip of 25 billion liters annually? I know that my pursuit of wine knowledge should include a better understanding of how this all occurs. But, I like it the way it is. I’m ignorant of most of the deep details. Knowing not the proper brix level at which to pick your pinot grapes doesn’t worry me much. Brix? The very best material of which to build a house, right? But I do have one burning mystery that I want to solve about wine: how did the first person to drink wine know to drink it and the follow up mystery, how did they know what to do to create the next drink? That’s two mysteries, I realize.

After careful research, years of examining paleontological remains (and, excuse me, AD, if that’s not the proper Age), here’s the way I see it until proven otherwise. Picture a knuckle dragging cave man stopped by a fence row (wait, no fences yet). OK, stopped by a pile of vines and stooping to pick up some grapes. Trundling home with a reusable bag (Neanderthals were green, you ask? Uh, yeah, the first to go off-grid) of grapes to show his little Neanderthal wife and children. They proceed to eat most of them but leave a bunch in the primitive bowl on the coffee boulder. Fact: both bowl and coffee boulder artifacts will be discovered millennia later by the Joukowski Institute for Archaeology (shameless plug). After a few weeks, the lady of the cave decides that she must clean up what remains of those formerly tasty grapes which are decaying now and as she proceeds to upend the bowl in the composter, she stops as she notices a pool of moisture in the bottom of the bowl. And, since her IQ is nestled around freezing temperature, Fahrenheit, she thinks, “Why not drink it?” WHY NOT? Let’s pause for a moment. If your child stumbled upon something rotten and leeching moisture, would you: a) suggest she just give it a sip to see what its like? Or, b) yell, “Do not put that in your mouth”? But, without the benefit of current public hygiene sensitivities, lady cave woman downed the juice and became the first sad, depressed housewife to drink mid-afternoon.

cavewomanOK, fine so far. That is most likely the answer to the first mystery. Sort of like the first oyster eater, drinking wine the first time was an accident where opportunity met stupidity. But isn’t wine an acquired taste? Wouldn’t she have had to drink a bunch, vomit in her BFF’s cave toilet, wake up the next day and do it all over again to bother letting grapes rot in her bowl by choice? I know that most of us gained our appreciation of wine in a similar manner.

So, why let your grapes rot and drink the juice again? Weren’t grapes of more value to cave persons when they’re fresh and real food, not paired with woolly mammoth as beverage alcohol? BTW, Northern Rhone syrah really marries with the gaminess here.

So, here’s what I think. Lady Neanderthal noticed that the rotten grape juice helped her open up in her Kave Klatch that afternoon. She noticed she got a warm, cozy feeling when her husband showed her his wooden club under the bed skins, wink, wink. She just relaxed and stopped worrying about the little things – staying away from the saber-toothed tiger, finding a spot in daycare for her twins Ugh and Jared. Perhaps like wine aficionados centuries later, she also couldn’t escape the sensation that the rotten grape juice reflected the region they lived in. It smelled of the garrigue and the lavender around their cave – spoke to her of the people and their land. But mostly, she found out later, it provided an endless stream of wine-code chatter between her and the growing number of her Neanderthal friends that enjoyed rotten grape juice too. Why, she’s just like us!

However, the second mystery: how did they know how to repeat and repeat it right? Rot the grape at the right moment? Use malolactic fermentation, or not? Oak or stainless steel? Twist or cork? Actually, I’ve re-thought this and I don’t care. I don’t need to solve that. I’ll leave that to those really serious about wine. For now, it’s time to pop a cork and simply enjoy the beverage I don’t fully understand. I love a mystery. I love wine.

15 Responses to “The Mystery of Wine #MWWC6”

  1. talkavino January 5, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Great post Bill! Very nice interpretation of the theme!


  2. Sally January 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    Now I’ve written my post I can read everyone else’s. The wine in a cave mystery – love it.


  3. mwwcblog January 6, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Reblogged this on mwwcblog.


  4. marty January 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    Bill…. you are definitely onto something here. A further mystery is how they came to call it whine??!! Maybe it was the sound Lady Neanderthal made when cave man showed her his wooden club under the sheets. Just sayin’.


    • Duff's Wines January 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

      O behave! Thought that you’d appreciate the link to oysters as I believe we have mused on that one before. Who would think that an oyster would be OK to eat?


  5. Stefano January 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    Very entertaining as always: love it! 🙂


  6. frankstero January 14, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Great post! Loved the Northern Rhone syrah – mammoth match!


    • Duff's Wines January 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      It’s just when you find something that works, you want to share. Thanks.



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