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Monday, February 13, 2012

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

When I was really young, I was a fan of Mister Rogers (confession, I’m still a fan of Mister Rogers).  My Mom says that it’s as if he was speaking directly to me, that the things he said perfectly described my thoughts, my fears, my behavior, etc.  Mister Rogers, in one of my favorite songs of his, tells us that, “I like to take my time, I mean that when I want to do a thing, I like to take my time to do it right.”  He then goes on to explain that hurrying can cause a person to make mistakes, and that, in order to do something - anything - correctly, it’s best to take your time.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I’ve always embraced this mentality, taking my time with just about everything I do, in order to do it right.  To this day, I still tell people that I can’t really afford to make many mistakes.  The few times in my life that I’ve made some really unnecessary and costly mistakes were situations where I allowed myself to be hurried.  But the only thing worse than making such mistakes is making mistakes and failing to learn from them.  And for me, it was just a matter of remembering that in fact, I’m far better off taking my time to do things correctly.  I’m still questioned on that point regularly - Why do I need to proceed so cautiously?  Why do I need to take so long to make a decision, and then act on it?  Am I going to take forever?  What am I waiting for?  For me, the answer is simple - timing is everything, and I need to take my time.
Have you ever opened a bottle prematurely?  Do you remember why it happened?  Do you remember what it felt like to experience a wine that wasn’t nearly ready to be opened?
Chances are, the wine felt a bit uptight and tannic.  Ideally, you want to time it properly when you open a bottle.  Granted, not all bottles are intended for aging, and those should be consumed young.  But it pays to do some research and determine when is the best time to open a particular bottle.  Once a wine has aged properly, it becomes smooth, and the aromas (at this point we’d call it the bouquet) and flavors have reached their potential, and the wine is at its best.  A white wine would now appear a bit golden in the glass, and the color of a red would tend to lean toward brickish.  What maturity and personality the wine will show, and how smooth it will feel.  It will be like a person with experience and sensibility and confidence that allows the person to show their full potential, without any awkwardness or uncertainty - smooth, elegant, and compelling.
The key is patience.  When you buy a wine that’s intended for aging, you must respect this, and find a cool place to store the bottle, where it will not be disturbed.  And you need to be patient.  As the saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.”  And I’m perfectly comfortable waiting for a bottle to mature properly, even if it takes years.  I want to treat it as it was intended, and I want to allow it to reach its full potential.  I want to maximize the experience, each time I open a bottle.
I have a few wines that I’ve been waiting for, and I will be opening them within the next year or so, some California but mostly French and Italian - and some more over the next few years, and others will not be opened in the near future.  Last year, my parents bought me a bottle of 2007 Far Niente Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon - that bottle needs to age.  This past Christmas, one of the bottles they bought me was the 2007 Freemark Abbey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and it needs to wait a few years.  And last week I bought myself a bottle of 2009 Domaine Tempier Bandol La Tourtine, and that one really needs to wait a while.  So while those three and a bunch of other bottles that I dare not disturb are putting a great deal of temptation in my path, I’d rather wait until I’m fairly certain that they’re ready to be opened.






While I won’t advise you to be too deliberate in all areas of your life (although I’m guessing most would agree with me on that), I will highly recommend that you do your research with your wine bottles and make sure you wait patiently for them to be ready.
Not only sands and gravels
Were once more on their travels,
But gulping muddy gallons
Great boulders off their balance
Bumped heads together dully
And started down the gully.
Whole capes caked off in slices.
I felt my standpoint shaken
In the universal crisis.
But with one step backward taken
I saved myself from going.
A world torn loose went by me.
Then the rain stopped and the blowing,
And the sun came out to dry me.
Robert Frost, “One Step Backward Taken”

4 comments:

  1. Frank Dallaire-Empire State CellarsFebruary 14, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    Outstanding post, I recently met Peter Bell of Fox Run Winery upstate, and he said 95 percent of wines purchased today are consumed within 1 day. Ridiculous when you consider how many awesome wines are out there that need a few years, or even as little as one to settle from bottle shock. In any case, here is to waiting!

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  2. 95%...wow. I guess maybe that figure can be caused a bit by people who are buying wine for dinner that evening, but still...I like pulling bottles form the cellar that I’ve been waiting for! Patience, people.

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  3. Very good post! I love the transformation which takes place in a bottle, when wine evolves from may be sharp and one-sided to all round and eloquent. I understand that not everybody have cellar space at home, but interestingly enough you can buy well aged wines at a very reasonable prices today (one place I know is Benchmark Wine Company).
    Also general press regarding wine aging doesn't help - the typical advice given over and over is that 95% of the wines today are not intended to be aged, so people should just buy it and drink it - my own experience is drastically different - I age a lot of inexpensive wines, and they greatly improve down the road...

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