Recently I watched a Netflix Documentary call Somm. It’s about the master Sommelier test that very few get to write. I was so fascinated by the process and the lengths of studying involved. It got me thinking about wine and what I get out of it. So many of us stick our big noses in a glass and smell big lengthy smells. Saying things like ‘I smell cherries and plums’ or ‘yes, dark chocolate for sure’
Maybe I’m the one of the very few that is not captivated by the smell, but the places it takes me. I do smell fruity notes and the oak barrels. I do smell the earth and the sun. However there is something else, some place else.
I smell deep caves and cellars. I smell the sun. I smell the rain and the soil. I am taken to France where beautiful vineyards line named gates. I am taken to Portugal where you taste port in tall glasses, filled beyond measure. I am taken to Italy with a long table filled with loud voices and bread breaking.
When I drink wine my senses go on complete over drive and it’s hard for me not to be transported some place else. The earthy notes of a musty cellar, where there are bottles upon bottles of years gone by. Of cellars that are mingled upon cobbled stone roads and etched by the rivers that surround them. I’m taken to a hot desert where the sun inspires the grapes to grow deep and bold. The smell of villages where the grapes are the heart and wine the blood.
The smell of a cheese board, charcuterie, and olives. A celebration with a chocolate cake. The smell of flowers, a picnic, farmers markets and a deep sigh. The smell of summer, and rain. Of the seasons changing of the years morphing. The smell of hard work and love, of dedication and time.
The taste of fruit. Of plums so ripe they melt in your mouth. Of cherries and herbs. The taste of the sea and wind off the mountains. A perfectly cooked steak and smoked meat. Hickory notes and Oak. The taste of something sweet and earthy.
There is so much in such a small glass. There are some wines that have notes that I just can’t place. I can tell you exactly where they take me, but I can’t tell you the taste.
I appreciate those refined palate sommeliers who can place the taste and smell to an exact food or region. Who can pair a wine perfectly with a meal. To study regions and history and trace the wine back to a time. To know what grape the wine makers used and the cut of vine. To be so perfectly tuned into the seasons and years.
However good a sommelier I don’t think I would trade the destinations a good bottle takes me. The memories it unlocks or the feeling it invokes.