Back in my youthful past, I was always falling in love. My obsessions with women, or cars or wine, or art, were often one sided. I would worship a woman from afar, never to talk to her or even approach her. One woman I pined over for a year before I realized that it was going nowhere, except in my head. I had put her so far up on a pedestal that she became an unimaginable goddess. One night, after I had broken the barrier and actually gotten up the nerve to talk to her, I saw her in a lounge. She had been drinking and was getting quite drunk. I didn’t realize it until she asked me over to join her. I was fresh out of a dark room, printing photos. I was hungry and thirsty but here was the woman of my dreams beckoning me over to sit with her. I forgot my hunger and my fatigue. But a funny thing happened. She confessed to me that she had a crush on me for a year or so and wanted me to come back with her to her room. I didn’t know what to say. I was sober and she was blitzed and right then and there she didn’t seem so desirable. I made an excuse about working late and being tired and got the hell out of that lounge.
The next day she apologized to me, saying she had been drunk and didn’t mean what she said, whatever it was. She couldn’t remember what she had said. Which made it better. And worse. But by then I had already taken her down off the pedestal and was looking to replace her with another equally indescribable idol.
I can’t help but wonder if we do that with wine. I say this not to make wine into some more-than-it-is kind of deal. It isn’t. But in the daily doings of life and business and food and wine, sometimes I think we glorify this stuff beyond imagining. Wine has become Hollywood-ized and glamorized to be this larger than life product.
Roaming the halls this week at work, as I peered into offices and listened to conversations managers were having with winemakers, with importers, with salespeople, with accountants, I realized that the Golden Age is a little tarnished. The love affair with wine is ebbing.
Some of this is circumstances. The economy. But some of it is also the expectation that things will return to the way they once were. Does that ever happen? How could it? In the ever present moment of now, there is no returning to another simpler and sweeter time. Not to say that we can’t approach a new epoch of sweetness and desire, like the young lovers who are enthralled with the passion they are newly generating among themselves.
I look to Italy right now and see confusion. I look to France, to Australia, to California and see an unimaginable scenario. Allocations? How about tossing that word into the waist bin of the past? Expectations? How about packing a bag and hitting the stores and restaurants? I know, in the trade it looks a little like Berlin or Nagasaki after the bombs dropped. Not to diminish those horrific moments with a comparison that is a reach, at best. But talk past the middle-man and go to the end-user. It is more like being a priest in a confessional. That is to say, it isn’t pretty. But it isn’t impossible.
All you need is love, Italian style. And an active list of targets where you can go find orders and move some of this wine out into the world. After all, without vino veritas, I wouldn’t have known my goddess was just a human like me. And she wouldn’t have scared off her potential Italian lover.