Spending time in coronavirus lockdown mode has given us some valuable insights into what life is or isn’t about. All in all, it’s an eye opening experience. It boggles the mind to see just how little discomfort some people need to suffer before they become radical. Others, however, are toiling away through all of it without a single complaint. What I’ve found most bizarre is how much time some people are willing to devote to spreading all manner of conspiracy fantasies around social media. I’ll remember all of them next time I’m looking for brand ambassadors.
Regardless of what type of quarantine dweller you are: one that is now trying to catch up on the last 15 years of self-improvement by going through a bunch of different online courses, one that is happily spending days on the couch binge eating, binge watching Netflix and binge sleeping (is that a thing?), or one that is maniacally posting his/herself on social media doing housechores or excercising indoors; you can’t deny the powerful effect this virus has had on us.
What does it all have to do with wine? Well, for me it does. I realised the other day, there are some wonderful bottles of Croatian wine in my house that I simply can’t wait to sink my fangs into. But day after day, I decide not to open them. It didn’t even register with me until recently. There it is, Kriz Winery’s Macerated Grk from 2018, just waiting for me to release it from it’s glass prison. Or Milos Stagnum 2005. Or Clai Tasel 2015. Somehow, it doesn’t feel right to drink them now. Why? Because I’m missing a few other wine lovers to share these bottles with. My fiance is by my side and she will gladly assist me, but I’ll know she’s doing it out of love for me and not the wine. Besides, that would only make the two of us. It’s simply not the same as having a few more quality people around.
When they say: „don’t keep your fancy wine for special occasions“, they’re missing the point. Special occasion is not a specific day in the calendar. It is not a date of your life divisible by 365.
The right occasion to drink a nice bottle of wine is when you are surrounded by people that are going to enjoy it as much as you. When you are sharing great food and fun stories with people you appreciate, that’s when you open magnum sized Dingac. When you are nerding out alongside other wine nerds, that’s when you reach for an obscure biodynamic orange wine you’ve stumbled across on your road trip through Austria. It’s these precious wine moments around the actual drinking that make the experience special and valuable.
You see, coronavirus has taken from us perhaps the best thing about wine – the joy of sharing it with others. Through history wine might have been a necessity. Here in the south of Croatia growing grapes was the only way of making a living off in karst, rocky hills. During hot summer months wine was sometimes easier to get than water. Still, this historical importance of wine is not why wine occupies such a strong spot in our local culture today. It’s the fact it was made to be shared within a community. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself what would you rather do right now: enjoy a 100EUR bottle of Burgundy alone, or drink a 10EUR Chilean Merlot with a bunch of your friends around a loud dinner table?
What these difficult times showed us is that we are social animals. One of the things that makes us special is our ability to add to each other’s quality of life simply by being there, laughing together. Very few things accompany this ability better than wine. So, when all is said and done, many bottles in my house will not have survived the corona epidemic. But some that I’ve wanted to open for a while will wait a bit more. Maybe I’ll drink them with a bunch of people on a park bench, violating all rules of social distancing as soon as this horrible disease has subsided. Now, that’s what I call a special occasion.