It’s Been A While; Have Some Wine; Die Leiden des jungen Stadden

I have, for the past month or so, been relatively busy for the first time in quite a while. But now I can rant about wine for a while!

“Hail Corkmaster, the Master of the Cork!”

In the interest of keeping myself occupied and to get out of the house every so often, as well as to make some cash while I continue the hunt for a real job, I have gotten a part-time as a cashier at a liquor store, or as I tell my friends, I am a wine purveyor and consultant at a spirits store that predominantly vends wines. As many of you know or could have guessed, I am notorious to many for my love of alcohol (I can stop any time I want) and my snobbery.

Now I have the perfect method to blend the two, and the result is as delicious as the blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and mourvèdre that I enjoyed the other day.

I have been educating myself on wine for the past few weeks in order to get this job, because I’m really good at faking knowledge on topics. Having only read the first three chapters of The Wine Bible, I was able to pretend I knew everything there was to know about wine and I was hired that week. It isn’t glamorous, but it’s something.

The reason I got into wine in the first place was the show Frasier, which is by far one of my favourite shows of all time. The writing is incredibly clever, and the sheer brashness of the characters always produces a pleasant but often stressful hilarity. The jokes range from cheap shots about sex to jokes about vintage wine and puns in Latin and French, and even if one doesn’t understand the joke, it’s still humorous since they’re making the joke at all.

In any case, they’re obsessed with wine and sherry in particular, and that inspired me to learn a bit more.

I’d recommend The Wine Bible heavily if you’re at all interested in wine. It’s a lot of information, and it’s aimed more at people who are not absolute beginners, but it has virtually all the information you could ever need. Wine For Dummies is good as well, but I found it almost a bit too brief, though the simplicity of it makes it a good reference.

Having only read the section on how to taste, I was already able to distinguish wines from one another, in the sense that I could guess what the main grape was. I can also remember every wine I’ve drunk since then, and its own particular taste, since I now know how to describe it. It’s a useful skill to have, since you can differentiate between what you’ve had and realise why you like something instead of just liking it.

On a further, more abstract note, it allows you to travel wide distances without leaving. A good chenin blanc from the Loire transports you to that Valley, and is a crisp and acidic wine that goes well with a book in French or, my favourite type of movie of all time, the 1960’s black-and-white French drama. Or the Bordeaux from Château St.-Pasquet I drank a week ago TO CELEBRATE GETTING INTO GRADUATE SCHOOL revealed the taste of the limestone soil of Bordeaux’s left bank.

The reason European wines transports one across the world is the way it is produced. Whereas in the New World in general wine is a science, in Europe it is an art, and one is supposed to taste the terroir, a fancy French word that explains the concept of the soil. Once the grapes are crushed and fermented, they are generally left alone, whereas in California they spend weeks adjusting and adding and removing. Even though a California wine can be spectacular, a European wine is firmly locked into the soil whence it came.

It is, therefore, one of the cheapest ways to travel, and you can always brag to your friends without spending that much money. It’s a win-win scenario. And you can get drunk with class.

One of the benefits of the job is that I have to taste the wines if there is a winetasting so that I can promote the wines to customers who walk in. Work is more fun when you’re buzzed.

Another is that, when I’m not doing anything, I can read all the wine books I want because it’s technically for the job, and there are long stretches in which there is simply nothing to do because we’ve already done everything.

If you have time, I highly recommend you leaf through at least one of the two books I mentioned above. It will immediately improve your understanding and appreciation of wine.

On another note, I have recently been accepted to my first graduate school, so I have a future again, which is always nice. I was accepted to Leiden University (hence the title, which is a pun on Goethe) for Russian studies, and I’m still waiting for two schools to respond. So I’m not a total failure. In addition, I’m only twenty-one, so I have plenty of time to get a real job and prepare for it.

I’m trying to get back into writing on here, but I haven’t had too much to say recently. So drink a few hogsheads of wine until my next post.


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