of the Tasting Rooms
One of the
main things I like about wine is its gradual nature. Sometimes we get
people coming into The Store asking for something fruity that will also
give them a kick, put them on their butt. We steer them away from the
fine wines and we offer them counseling in a different corner. The natural
alcohol content of most fine wines is between about 11 - 14%. This means
that if you sip and contemplate a wine slowly, you will warm up to it
gradually and it will gradually warm you up. Wine generally enhances the
best moods of an evening and stimulates conversation at the dinner table.
We are learning that there are other trace minerals in wine that are also
very good for you; some scientists have even suggested that there are
trace amounts of antibiotics found especially in red wines. But I do not
want to rationalize all of this too much. All I know is that the gradual
nature of wine adds to my overall picture of health.
Furthermore, fine wine is worthy of reflection, and when we contemplate
something we hold an idea in our minds. According to some philosophies,
the awareness of clinging to thought and understanding the process of
attachment can lead to wisdom. In the Thai language, the word for mood
(arom) can be traced to a Buddhist notion of "mind-object."
For Buddhism, too often the mind-objects that we cling to determine our
moods. The point is we should be aware of mind-objects and not let them
overpower us. All of this leads me back to Sonoma. Ideally, when you walk
into a tasting room, the visitor should gain a reflection of the winery's
approach and attitude towards winemaking and selling. In Sonoma, the settings
varied from Ferrari-Carano's upscale, million-dollar gardens, to Hop Kiln's
old hop barn (wine in a beer barn?), and Meeker Winery's canvas tepee.
Moods ranged from a snooty, sourpuss approach to a careful, family-style
informative approach. For example, Hop Kiln's dry, almost bitter wines
matched the disposition of the person pouring them. At Rochioli, they
were pouring no reds and would not open one for us; we also overheard
the person pouring the wine telling someone else that unless they were
a dealer there would be no special offers available. Ridge had a convivial
fellow pouring the wine, but he knew very little about the grapes. Rabbit
Ridge would pour you their wines for a $2 fee that could be applied towards
your purchase (Silver Oak was the same); Rabbit Ridge makes some excellent
wines, but one of the things that makes Sonoma different from Napa is
that almost all of the tastings are free paying for tastings
can definitely can affect your mood. The most knowledgeable and friendly
tasting rooms were those of A. Raffanelli, Pedroncelli, and Rodney Strong.
At each one of these places, along with your wine, you received a sense
history and a picture of how a family had grown along with a winemaking
operation. This is one reason why we stock so many Rodney Strong products
at The Store: they put a great deal of care into all aspects of their
products. The winery that had perhaps the most memorable, and certainly
the most off-beat, mood was Meeker. To taste their wine, you walk into
a large Indian tepee with a fine mist of water descending from the hole
in the top. The coolness hits your face as you make your way to the makeshift
bar. There are cases of wine stacked all around. They hand you a glass
almost as big as a fish bowl, and they pour you a very generous amount
of any or all of their wines. The winemaker/pourer tells you, "No
I am not wasting wine; you have to have enough to swish around to get
all of the aromatics!" If you drank everything they put in your glass,
you would experience something beyond a mood change you would not want
to operate heavy machinery. At Meeker, they make up in generosity and
ambiance for any shortcomings in the wine, and this can be very important.
Mood involves many subtle factors worth studying. Check with us for guided
tours of proper mood enrichment. We hope to see you in The Store soon.