Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In vino veritas.

I know that it's a shocking thing to suggest, but there actually is more to life than sex. Like, Ontario's Niagara region wine for example.

Which, you know, is kinda like sex.


Last weekend, sexy Kara and I enjoyed a surprise birthday party for a friend (a minister's wife, no less) featuring a wine tasting. It made for a deliciously sensual evening, even with a brood of birthday-cake laden kids running around.

I had already known that I preferred varietals to blends, so I was surprised by a 2005 Henry of Pelham cabernet sauvignon/merlot when enjoyed with some Quebec oka classique cheese. The resulting flavour came wickedly close to a hazelnut chocolate, leaving me to ponder its possible use during a sensual night of candlelit caresses. Their 2006 baco noir reserve (a varietal) brought out a more peppery flavour to the same cheese, and with its slightly earthy, almost tulip nose, struck me as being ideal for venison. A slightly sharp 2007 pinot noir possessed a strong cranberry nuance that seemed perfect for a roast turkey (despite being a red) if it were bulging with a rich cranberry stuffing.

Yum. (But Henry, what's with the "cheap prescription" stuff on your website?)

Lailey Vinyards' 2007 meritage (a 54% merlot, 31% cabernet franc, 15% cabernet sauvignon blend) disappointed me at first with an almost "plastic" bouquet. Blends. But its light, slightly buttery flavour compensated for it, especially when combined with some Quebec havarti or Ontario "comfort cheese," where its creaminess was richly enhanced. I could easily see Kara held in suspension rigging, swaying creakily under some heavy oaken beams, as I gently brought slivers of this cheese and the barest of sips from Baccarat stemware to her lips. After I'd had my fun with her bare, pert behind. Of course.

Another blend, a 2006 "red blend" (ooo, imaginative!) from Stratus Vinyards, would go superbly with my deepdish, Brooklyn-style lasagna. Its length was bitter and slightly salty, which seemed to bring out the better elements to provolone. Yet the varietal fan in me can't see enjoying this for drinking's sake if another option was available, being a dizzying (for me) fusion of merlot, gamay, malbec, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, syrah (shiraz), and petit verdot. What, is this what became bottled from the slush barrel near the rear cellar door? Evil.

Truth be told, I'm not really a wine snob. But I am, so to speak, a wine symbolist. To me, wine can tell a story of a place and a time, like a pressed flower in an old book or a scrip of paper bearing an old note that's been slipped behind a framed photograph. I like to mark special events in life with the purchase of a new bottle, tag it with the date and a note about the event, and then save them in what passes for my cellar. I savour the memory as I savour the grapes when the time comes to re-celebrate or re-mark a connecting occasion, and then I uncork one in my personal, ritual way.

Two years after mentioning it here, I still have that last 2002 Boordy coastal claret that I picked up in Maryland. I bought two originally, and they marked when I met The Grrl.

"We drank its sister on (our) last night together," I wrote here then. "I've thought the bottle would make a fitting offering to Aphrodite but I have yet to uncork it for such a purpose." Somehow, I still haven't brought myself to do it, although I think now that that has less to do with attachments to my former partner than it has to do with the fact that I've held it for so long. Or so I tell myself.

Sometimes, in no less a personally sacred sense, that ritual and energy and symbolism backfires on me. I haven't had a bottle from Cave Springs in years, which is a shame because they're really very good. But it was at their winery where my betraying ex-wife, so long ago, and I had what passed for our honeymoon.

There was a bottle that marked Shayne, although looking back on this blog I find that I didn't actually acquire it until one of her visits to Toronto. My normal habit would have been to get one during our first meeting, which would have been when I drove to see her in Chicago. I think it's because, in some ways, that rollercoaster ride helped me persevere through some lingering post-Grrl attachments that gave me the timeliness to imbibe that bottle when our End seemed apparent. I enjoyed it as part of a pleasant dinner, as I recall, where I gladly and heartfully toasted both her and myself. Her, for the pleasures and personal gifts she had indeed certainly brought to me, and me for the recognition and ground to take those gifts with appreciation and kindness as I stepped forward from there.

It pleases me that we're friends now, and I feel perfectly at peace that that bottle was so "properly" enjoyed.

And no, in the event you're asking yourself, there hasn't been a bottle (to date) to mark when I met Kara. But I think the reason is solid, if it may change very soon now. At least, no wine has as-yet been specifically added to my cellar to mark her, although I do enjoy the memory that it was a 2008 Duboeuf beaujolais we enjoyed on the night of her first playparty, one of her first introductions to kink. We've also found a special relationship with Pelee Island's blanc de blanc, which I served with salmon during our first homecooked meal together.

In a very Buddhist way, I've learned a great deal through my myriad of relationships, and most usually about myself as I enjoy them. I've had a tendency to invest too much of myself too quickly. Since The Grrl, most of what I've learned is about the that kind of attachment, and the ability to Be At Peace with what comes, as it comes, without "needing" to impose preconceived ideas of what I think it is. I've learned, for my own mental and emotional health, to retain a small amount of objectivity in the early days of an affair, and it's a lesson that I didn't want to forget when I had begun dating this sexy, punky, high school math teacher I had met online.

To me, a relationship doesn't "fail" if, should it end, something can still be gained in learning a new element of yourself, how you perceive others, how you can do things better next time. In this way, and as I've often shared with friends, one's future partner(s) become the beneficiary of everything you've learned up unto that moment.

And so I didn't get a bottle of wine after I started dating Kara because I had learned lessons after drinking the one I had saved to mark the time when I had started seeing Shayne. And because that bottle from Maryland still lingered in the dark (both in cellar and in self) to remind me about where those attachment senses were coming from. I didn't get a bottle of wine right away to mark things with Kara because I didn't want to spoil it if things with Kara got spoiled. I had become tired of spoiled. I wanted some sense of longevity between us first, since previously I would buy the wine out of slightly rote habit and often before I really knew what investmentswere possible between me and 'the new partner.' Maybe I thought I was being practical, but in hindsight, perhaps I was just being overzealous and impatient.

Is this a slight against her?


An unconscious acceptance that maybe it wouldn't work out?

Ok, probably, although only at first, and in no way reflecting on her. I wanted to retain a lesson learned.

Because things with Kara have not become spoiled. So far, it has been working out. Kara is, hands-down, the most supportive, generous, kind partner I've known in years. I've been in some personal angst lately, and she's been incredibly helpful as I adapt and overcome. I've also learned that while some things can and will try her patience (as some things can and will try mine), we enjoy an enriching sense of communication that often floors me with how deeply it works, resonates, and nurtures. We've had disagreements, but they have yet to really become a problem. We don't have all the same tastes, but we still find common ground and have a blast. We relate, and where we don't, we listen and find space in ourselves, mutually, to take those moments as plateaus we can challenge ourselves with to grow and become stronger, better, as people.

That's really damned cool.

And next Wednesday, it'll be our first anniversary. Now, I think, it's time to buy a 2009 bottle of Ontario. Perhaps we'll buy it together, and from some online source since, again, we met that way.

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