Monday, August 1, 2011

What an Interstate Rest Area taught me about Wine

Truth that wine is everywhere, if you want it to be. Even on an uninspired stretch of highway between Atlanta and Macon...

...and no, there weren't a couple of escaped convicts stirring a batch of pruno in one of the toilet reservoirs. You know I would've gotten a picture of that jive. And probably a taste. And then a shiv in the ribs, otherwise known as a "Putnam County tickle".

Actually, I was heading down to middle Georgia to snap some shots of a renovation project-in-progress for the day job. I should really carry the camera with me more often. When you know you can capture something on film, so many more interesting things pop out at you.

So, I snapped a shot of an unassuming rest area bathroom. I had to: it reminded me of Walt Disney World. As soon as I walked in to that very clean space (kudos, state of Georgia), the powerful scent of bleach and cleaners smelled exactly- EXACTLY- like it did during childhood trips to Disney. The brood would pile into whatever prototypical family vehicle we had at the time (be it conversion van or station wagon), and roll down I-75 for 7 hours until we hit Orlando. Being pea-bladdered kids, we must've stopped twenty times at rest areas. I don't know how Dad did it.

But what I do know is that moments like these only strengthen my conviction towards the evidence that suggests a strong connection between emotions and olfactory memory. Considering I was on the way to the greatest place on Earth for a child of 5-10 years old, there was a heap of anticipation associated with that endless drive. Ergo, I step into a public restroom 25 years later, and I'm immediately whisked back to Space Mountain and mouse ears.

To this end, I've also noticed that the aromas in wine that are most familiar to me often stem from moments when I was enjoying a glass with friends, loved ones, or overlooking vineyards (the latter- I believe- explains why a bottle brought home from wine country never seems to taste as good as it did while you were there). So, I posit that if you want to learn more about wine, and build up your olfactory memory, don't forget to step away from the tasting table once and a while. Take a break from critical analyses and blitzkrieg tasting shows. Grab a bottle, and some friends, pour a glass, stick your nose down in it, and inhale. Take your time. Enjoy the wine. Savor the moment. And you may find you've learned more from that glass than you could from a dozen trade tastings...

...unless it's a glass of pruno. Swig that shizz down and pray for the gag reflex.

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