Today, around 2 pm, I should be going under anesthesia. (It is no small tribute to H.M.O.s that only five months after injuring my knee, I will be undergoing surgery to repair it). While my consciousness is dissolved into oblivion (for what will, hopefully, be a very short time), I offer some wine similes for your amusement.
I don’t like analogies, similes and metaphors. To me, using them is like peppering every sentence with “like” and “you know” (yes, I know this is a simile). There are precise and articulate ways of conveying ideas with language. I see it as intellectual laziness when specific, concrete words are bypassed in favor of an attempt to invoke some symbolic imagery. Never mind that most similes and metaphors tend to be trite and jaded.
Similes can be handy literary devices. However, they need to resonate with one’s audience in order to be successful. The audience has to agree with the idea to which the subject is being compared. So, what seems like a great simile to me, may be lost on the majority of my readers. Similes and metaphors can also be a bit of a distraction at times (see image above, left). Then, there is the issue of straining to make a point.
When forced to use them, I naturally turn to music for analogies and similes about wine. These following similes are post ideas I’ve entertained but never developed:
1. Notions of wine quality and “Guitar Hero”
John Cougar (before he was Mellencamp) said: “Forget about all that macho shit and learn to play guitar!“. This exhortation is lost on many who see greater appeal in pushing four colored buttons in alternating order than in learning technique, theory and tonality. Go figure. Guitar Hero is like playing guitar because the controller looks like a guitar and by handling it in a particular way, one can sound like they are playing (how are they going to simulate the Van Halen hammer & tap technique with just four buttons?). That’s like calling a DJ a musician.
So it is with wine these days. It has the technical elements of wine: it’s made from grapes, it’s fermented, it has alcohol and may have been put in a barrel for a while. Issues of manipulation in the cellar aside, the wine is as plastic as a Guitar Hero controller and as real as the “music” generated by the player.
2. New wine making techniques are like Auto-Tune
If you think wine seems too perfect these days, you are not alone. Wines of today are square pegs being forced into a round hole of the marketplace. To achieve this, a pinch of this is added a little bit of that is done. The pH is tweaked with a bit of tartaric and a bit of alcohol is spun out to hit that sweet spot. Filters, fining and stabilizing agents make the wine as clean and polished as Auto-Tune makes a pubescent boy band sound in key.
Just as AutoTune has become the single dominant vocal adjustment software in the industry, so do a select few consulting winemakers and manipulation methods affect a uniformity in wine today.
3. Wine assessment and perfect pitch
Perfect pitch is the ability of an individual to accurately identify and reproduce the pitch of a presented note. Now, while one cannot reproduce an aroma or flavor, identifying them is a matter of sensory memory – which is the essence of perfect pitch. Accurately identifying aromas and flavors and understanding what they mean for a wine is integral to good wine assessment (in the product evaluation sense). Anything else is like listening to music while relaxing or driving to work.
A trained musician experiences music on a different level than a casual listener. They can enjoy one piece more than another and they can prefer one style of music over others. The fact that they can articulate the components of the piece is an advantage in the pursuit of communicating its character and in making judgments about it – regardless if it follows or breaks the “rules”.
Please feel free to talk amongst yourselves.
If my anesthesiologist is worth their salary, I’ll have some very precise and concrete things to say next week.
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