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Wine and religion

Over the years, I’ve attended wine classes, read many books and articles about wine and have taught some wine classes and, for some reason, the words of Augustine keep coming to me.

The one theme that keeps coming forth in my ruminations is that I have faith in wine to reflect the world — to allow me “see” and taste places I only know from maps. I have faith in the grapes, the wine maker, that the final product will be true and it’s through that belief that I find understanding.

Perhaps, another way to phrase my faith is to believe that vinology is wine seeking understanding and that’s where Augustine’s words always float to the top of my thinking.

Many hundreds of years ago and in a very early attempt to better understand the new Christianity of the time, Augustine used the words that “Theology is faith seeking understanding.”

I am not going to unwind Augustine’s theological philosophy at this time but will summarize it in this way: like young children who trust in the actions and words of their parents and then in their maturing years see the wisdom of their parents’ words, people of faith will, as they mature in their Christian faith, realize the close relationship between faith and human reason.

Therefore, theology is faith seeking understanding.

My faith in wine is maturing and I’m beginning to glimpse the beauty and glory of wine as I study and live the world of wine. Therefore, I believe vinology is wine seeking understanding and I look forward to the time when I fully appreciate wine.

So what does that mean to fully appreciate wine? Lately, my available offerings of wine are limited and I have begun to delve into the lesser priced and rated wines. Here’s what I’ve discovered and, I know this revelation will shock you!

You can buy some pretty darn good wines for under $10 a bottle.

OK, you can take the fake shocked look off your face now and let’s mention a few wines that have been waiting for my understanding.

A number of years ago and in a restaurant in Rochester I had a glass of Ménage à Trois Silk — a red blend from California and it honored me with its presence last week. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a blended wine that has Pinot Noir as its primary grape. When the blend is then brought to fruition with the addition of Malbec and Petite Sirah, it’s very satisfying and softly flavorful. Mirroring its name — Silk — the wine glides over your palate and the tastes of cherry and spice will take you on a journey of understanding.

Excuse me while I take a sip of coffee — man doesn’t live by wine alone!

I like to see a bottle of wine that goes beyond the marketing of a celebrity and is signed by the wine maker. It shows integrity and personal involvement and asks you to pay attention to the wine — not to the celebrity.

Napa Cellars has a terrific wine value in its Sauvignon Blanc. The front label is simple and straight forward showing only the producer, a light graphic and the name of the wine. The back label tells you the story.

It reveals the vintage, varietal, appellation and the type of barreling used in production. Then, there’s the flavor profile (crispy citrus with lots of acidity and long finish ñ to cut it short) and then there’s the signature of the wine maker. That type of label seeks to educate one and leads to understanding.

Staying with California wines and, again, seeking to learn more, I bought a bottle of Woodbridge White Zinfandel. As you may know, a white zinfandel is not white in color but has a nice soft red color and is usually sweet. This is a good example of that kind of wine.

Despite its sweetness (9.5% ABV), the wine is refreshing with wonderful tastes of strawberries and even some raspberry flavors. The citrus flavor is refreshing and you’ll love understanding this wine.

So you see, Augustine’s words of seeking understanding in theology by better understanding one’s faith can be a parallel to better understanding wine.

Have the faith to taste all wines — no matter the pricing A cheaper wine only means a different understanding of wine and gives us the opportunity to become more intimate with it.

Maybe a good way to put it is this: vinology is us seeking understanding. Of what? Of ourselves through wine.

As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon!

Cheers!

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