Unexpected Wine Epiphany #MWWC17

“Epiphany” defines this Monthly Wine Writing Chalange #MWWC17.

mwwc mwwc13Now, a few wines have lit that invisible light bulb over my head to heights nearing high holy, magi-gifting, Catholic-levels of exultation. You know, where the Jesus light pours from cherub-filled clouds shaking everything you thought you knew, just as your nose neared that magnificent glass: that kind of epiphany.

But my greatest wine epiphany came from a bottle I never tried.

Back in 2009, I had finally shed my career in archaeology. The travel and research had been great, but the field’s future was bleak. Chance (and my wife) landed me in Saratoga Springs.

One day I walked out of a job fair, told to go back to academia, that I was over qualified for any normal job. I trudged home but then sighted a Help Wanted sign. Excavating for  five summers in Italy had turned my blood into Sangiovese.  Putnam Wine hired me for the summer.

Soon they realized I could draw. Armed with paint pens, they flung me outside to draw blown-up wine labels on our main drag windows. So, between customer droughts, I would jump outside and bake in the sun. In a few weeks, things began to take shape:

Yet the ante needed upping. My boss handed me a bottle of Chateau Margaux, Pavillon Rouge, Margaux 2004: Bordeaux’s icon Cabernet. A chateau named after its own appelation.  Each glass flask runs around $165. For a small but proud wine boutique, this bottle was special.

Once the store emptied, I popped the bottle in the window and went out to paint it.  Over a clutch of days, me and my red paint pens sweated over the label’s details: how many lines made each column? How many dots delineated its lawn?  A customer would wander in. I followed them, sampled them on a decent rosé, then jumped back outside.

It was nearly complete. I just had the “Chateau Margaux” below its red rondel to draw:

image

One day I had to close shop alone. I did my usual sell-then-paint dance.  Then the dinner rush happened. Women and men swarmed in, frantic for any last minute pairing for tonight’s meal. I sold a ton, locked up, killed the lights and walked home, proud.

I arrived the next day for my afternoon shift. As I enterred, my coworker pulled me aside, gritting under hear breath:

“You left the bottle in the window.”

“What?”

“The Margaux. I came in and it had blown the cork, sprayed everywhere, and was still foaming.”

“…ah…”

My stomach sank into my toenails. I’m already fired.  I should leave forever, I thought, become a hermit on a mountain and do penance until my last breath.

But for some reason I set down my bag, numb, and walked up to punch into work.

My boss loomed over the register up front.  I glanced at the window, clean and bereft of the bottle. He did not look at me, as I approached. Then he slowly said:

“That was the best vinegar I have ever tasted.”

I blurred through a million apologies, offered to buy it, buy it for him, quit, buy him lunch, name a child after him, anything.

“Just don’t do it again.”

I realized what heat and UV damage could do. Our South-facing window let direct beams of light cut into the liquid that oxidized tartaric acid into violative, foamy, madness.  A bottle of wine is a delicate thing. Its stability has a narrow range.

But that was not my epiphany. With my new job crumbling before my eyes, I discovered that, unlike academia (where I was burned for proving paving in the Forum Romanum was a manifestation of ars memoria), that 160 dollar icon of Bordelais perfection was still a bottle of wine.

Wine matters only because we project importance upon it, but it remains an inanimate (well, usually) object.

People matter. Wine just makes them more tolerable.

 

 

 

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About waywardwine

Follow Wayward Wine (WSET3) to tour the world's exciting vineyards, breweries, and distilleries, while discovering new drinks.
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40 Responses to Unexpected Wine Epiphany #MWWC17

  1. vinoinlove says:

    What a great entry! This was a fun read. Cheers!

  2. talkavino says:

    A great story! Love both lines: “Wine matters only because we project importance upon it” and “People matter. Wine just makes them more tolerable”. Touché!

  3. sand110 says:

    Great reveal writing! Wonder if tasting the Margaux would have impacted window design?

  4. foxress says:

    Great story! I love the last line. It is a great truth!

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  7. Terry says:

    Great entry! And look how far you’ve traveled since that day pounding the streets of Saratoga.

  8. Yes! It is the hands that tend the soil, the vines and craft the wine, then those who show it to you at cellar door, that create the “experience” of wine equally as much as the contents of the bottle. Loved your epiphany (and nice drawings!)

  9. Pingback: Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #17–The Results | the drunken cyclist

    • waywardwine says:

      Thank you very much for keeping the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge running! I never thought I could win but thoroughly enjoyed the challenge each prompt presented to me.

  10. Pingback: Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #17–The Results | WAYWARD WINE

  11. NK says:

    Really enjoyed this – especially the surprise ending. Glad to have discovered you via the monthly challenge!

  12. Pingback: Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #18 (#MWWC18) | the drunken cyclist

  13. diagonalwine says:

    These are beautiful drawings…and a fun story.

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