I was thinking today that while I have already talked about one of my great loves, beer, I didn’t mention that I also like to partake in his (sometimes) upscale cousin, wine. The more I thought about it, I discovered that I have an interesting habit. When choosing a new beer to try, I tend to compare and contrast the offerings to others that I have enjoyed in the past: brands that I like, types, recommendations from others. When picking out a wine, perhaps because I am more of a neophyte, I tend to use a different method: I choose by looking at the label.
Sometimes this method works out well. I loved Cardinal Zin, Red Guitar, and Fat Bastard Chardonnay. Most times, not so well. This is probably best evidenced by the fact that I don’t even remember the names of the ones that I didn’t like. When I think about it, the best wines that I have ever had didn’t come in a bottle at all. I am fortunate in that I was able to travel extensively with my family when I was younger. One summer when I was in college we took a trip to Italy. One of the great pleasures of Italy is stopping off at tiny family run restaurants. Besides the always heavenly food, many if not most places made their own wine. It would be brought to out table in a pitcher.
Another example that comes to mind is the wine made by our back door neighbor. Since moving into our house, we have come to know our neighbors on all sides, but have only really made friends with our backdoor neighbors. The summer we moved in, they had just retired. We were playing with our dog in the backyard (no kiddos yet) and he peeked his head over the fence to chat. After awhile he asked Lovely Wife and I if we liked wine. When we answered affirmatively he scampered off and brought back a bottle that he had recently made. Since then he has shared several other different kinds. Maybe it’s the quality of ingredients, maybe it’s the fact that it is hand-crafted, or maybe it is just our friendship, but boy do those wines taste good.
When we are young we are told to never judge a book by its cover. How many times do we ignore this advice when we are older? I think about the mistakes that I have made in my life when I went after the “sexy” option. It doesn’t always have to do with appearance, either. Three years ago I was working in for a company and in a position that I absolutely loved. I got a call one day inviting me to apply for a job at a different company. I did so, and was offered the job. Although it didn’t feel right, I went with the new job because of something “sexy”: about a 21% pay jump. With Little Guy on the way, it seemed like the right move at the time. Boy, was I wrong. I was miserable at work, didn’t last long, and haven’t found anything else satifying since.
So we take what we can learn from our experiences. Over a shared interest, I have made a good friend out of my neighbor who is a man many years my senior. Last summer he helped me rebuild our fence. Good fences don’t make good neighbors. Good neighbors make good fences–and good wine.