We can all vividly recall the moment we found out that Santa Claus doesn’t actually exist (I’m sincerely hoping that this isn’t that moment). In my case, only about 90 seconds elapsed between when my parents took my skeptical older brother into the bathroom to answer his barrage of questions and when he busted down the door to tell me this staggering existential news. Christmas became an entirely different holiday after this unwanted shove into adulthood. Rather than hearing the faint jingle of Santa’s sleigh as I lay my head on the pillow that Christmas Eve night, I heard my parents polishing off “Santa’s” milk and cookies and rummaging through the closets for presents left to wrap. Not to say that the fun of the holidays vanished completely on that day, but my wide-eyed bewilderment and unconditional faith never came down the chimney again after that year.
Even if they are hard to remember sometimes, there are privileges to being an adult. We can choose what we wear, what we eat, and best of all, what we drink. If you open your world to wine, you may find yourself in wide-eyed bewilderment once again. Instead of feeling spine-tingling pleasure from seeing piles of colorfully-wrapped packages under the tree on Christmas morning, get it from a browse through a wine shop, caressing the labels of different bottles, imagining what enchantment lay within their contents.
Just like at Christmas when you hear your favorite carols, see homes aglow with twinkly lights, smell wreaths and trees, taste warm gingerbread, and feel snowflakes landing on your head, let wine awaken all five of your senses. Hear the “glug-glug” of its first pour, see its colorful glint in your glass, smell its heady confluence of aromas, taste its complex layers as it slides around your mouth, and feel the effects of its alcohol gently creep over you.
Too often wine’s reputation of erudition and sophistication paralyzes new drinkers into over-analyzing it and thinking about wine without feeling it. Human nature is to crave answers. What does this wine taste like? What year should I drink it? What score did it get in Wine Spectator? Answers mean certainty and certainty means power (or the illusion of power, in some cases). To me, answers are the death of wine. It is a complex drink with a simple purpose—enjoyment. People who want to endlessly debate the blacks and whites of wine don’t interest me. A good wine speaks in shades of gray. A good wine leaves questions unanswered. A good wine leaves beauty and mystery and magic in life.
This holiday, let wine recapture your childlike wonderment in the world again. Open a bottle you’ve been saving or buy a bottle to enjoy with family or friends. A good wine is alive. A good wine changes in the bottle and in the glass. A good wine laughs in the face of scores. A good wine is unforgettable. A good wine is proof that miracles do happen. A good wine will make a believer out of you. Whichever bottle you choose to open, close your eyes, and smell and taste it mindfully. Embrace the moment, let the wine’s warmth envelop you, and you may just hear Santa’s sleigh in the distance again.