JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

"For love of everything that is wine"

THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2008

~A very brief essay on wine and marriage~

Click here for a link to previous wine articles

     This shall be my second attempt at writing an essay about the subject of wine and its relevance toward marriage. To be certain, it is never a simple task to write about a subject of which one has had no experience. At age twenty-four, I have never been married, and, to be honest, I am not certain if I ever will. Though still young, I have already developed a healthy pessimism of the aforesaid institution; and though I feel little inclination to state my exact reasons, I seem to prefer less complicated romantic encounters to the act of (what does one call it?) getting hitched.

     But what in the world does wine have to do with marriage, the subject of my most recent short essay? At first glance, I reckon most people would say very little. And yet, such is simply not the case. In fact, wine seems to play several rather important roles in this peculiar ‘institution,’ and I think it worthwhile that someone with such literary capacity – or lack thereof – as I possess ought to be able to address these functions for the purpose of amusing a (hopefully) cultivated audience.

     In most societies, it is customary that potential couples (regardless of age) undergo a phase of togetherness which is otherwise known, quite boringly, as ‘courtship.’ In most ‘Western’ civilizations, the end goal of any courtship is to establish, most often with undoubted certainty (and even then there is the consistent possibility of divorce), that two persons are suitable for one another, and are thus willing and able to spend the rest of their lives in each other’s married presence, both physical and emotional. To this end, I would argue that wine is indispensable! As a poignant example, when a couple first goes out on a date, such as to dine at a highly rated French bistro, there is little question that a bottle of wine (or more) will be ordered throughout the course of the evening. The reason for why wine is ordered (instead of beer or spirits, for instance) is, in my view, two fold: not only is wine considered romantic, it will assist in loosening any tension or awkwardness that might be felt by either participant on their first serious outing. Concerning the former, I have, quite sarcastically, personally never been able to fully understand why wine is seen as more romantic than a glass of beer. I suppose it has to do with the fact that wine, being from grapes (a most beautiful fruit), is viewed as more sensual, and hence more conducive to the perpetuation of love. About the latter, few people (especially men) would dare to deny that a bottle of high-octane Aussie Shiraz assists in ‘loosening things up.’

     Courtship aside (and I really do despise such a term, as it sounds revoltingly puritan), wine and marriage is most certainly seen by many couples, especially in North America, as an agreeable combination. There are several important reasons why this is so. First and foremost, because wine is best enjoyed with other people, it is a perfect way for couples to socialize, both with each other and with their peers (the latter of which are most often couples, themselves). Why, most of mine own business comes from couples who have decided to put on a wine tasting for a small circle of their friends, and require an ‘expert’ (remember, I am a Socratic) to guide them through the process!

    At this juncture, I would like to expand even further on the idea of wine being an instrument of socialization for North American couples (especially young persons, particularly those in their thirties) in the present day. As much as some individuals would care to deny it, most couples are irrefutably class-conscious, particularly in the moneyed sense. Hence, they tend to engage in social activities that are emblematic of their line of credit. Now, for thousands of years, wine has been employed, in one way or another, as a means of displaying one’s wealth, from the ownership of Falernian amphorae in Roman times to the hosting of a vertical tasting of Château Petrus in the late-twentieth century. To continue, because wealth and method of socialization go hand in hand, it is unsurprising to observe the extent to which wine has become so popular amongst sociable yuppies throughout North America (who stand in almost-direct contrast to their continental European counterparts, the latter of which tend to consider wine as an irreplaceable staple).

     These days, there are all sorts of wine-related activities available for married couples to undertake and explore, many of which are unquestionably class-driven. Without listing each and every one of them, suffice it to say, costs can range from a couple of bucks (such as tasting a few wines at an L.C.B.O. tasting bar) to tens of thousands of dollars (such as picking your own grapes and making your own wine at the glorious Harlan Estate in Napa Valley). Of course, I would be in error to suggest that pricier ‘wine adventures’ are more conducive to a happier and worthwhile marriage. Rather the reverse, I would argue that wine in its simplest forms are the most apt ways for married couples to appreciate and cultivate their mutual affinity toward the aforementioned institution. After all, is not the idea of togetherness more important than the amount of cash spent on that togetherness? Not being married, however, I’d best let someone else answer that question.

COPYRIGHT 2008

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