September 4, 2013

Wine: Best things are often right in front of us


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The oppressive mechanisms of capitalism are enraging, but there is no room in this contemplation for armed revolution. Perhaps the best we can do is bring attention to what's in front of us. Wine has taught me this above anything else. Pay attention to particulars, and gratitude, restraint, lightness, sensitivity grow. From such traits comes empathy. Perhaps empathy -- defined somewhat un-technically as sympathy that lasts -- will lead us to a life of wine that is not antagonistic, wasteful, ignorant, ego-driven.

Last night I prepared a dinner of quinoa, corn, zucchini, avocado soup, goat cheese. There was a bottle of Kabinett Riesling to drink from. (For our purposes here, the name of the producer doesn't really matter. It cost $14. I've written previously of plenty of Kabinett Riesling in that price range. You should ask your favorite wine seller to speak with you about Kabinett Riesling, and go from there.)

The food, on a Tuesday night with my family, was so simple. The meal, though, was extraordinary. The natural sweetness in the corn and slow-cooked zucchini was complemented beautifully by the natural sweetness in the Riesling. The tang of acidity in the goat cheese, in the garlic that flavored the squash, conversed with the piquant bite of acidity in the Riesling. The fresh farm-like savors of the quinoa mated the slate-y earth tones of, yes, the Riesling.

We enjoyed each other immensely during dinner, my family and I. We just talked and came together in a spirit of love. It is not anthropomorphizing to say that the foods and wine did the same. I caught a glimpse of how the "best" thing has little to do with "quality" as narrowly defined by a consumer culture. The best meal is not a collection of atomized best products (best quinoa or best beef, best Riesling or best Brunello).

The best things attain their status through collaboration, through intimacy. We say, "it all came together." When osmosis occurs, when different expressions of the world enter each other, we catch that fleeting hint of the oneness underlying everything and everyone.

Our failure to consistently regard that oneness is what produces a world of disparity and despair. Our endeavors -- the word not used lightly: they are not our habit, and take work -- to touch it offer the only chance to produce something else.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog is, and he can be reached at:


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