This month’s entry for the Monthly Wine Writer’s Challenge is all about the “Finish.” The mind of the immature me went right to the gutter, but thankfully the mature (well, semi-mature) me won out and I decided to stick to a proper concept. If you are unfamiliar with the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC), it was created by Jeff of thedrunkencyclist.com. Jim of JVB Uncorked won last month’s contest and as always the prize for the winner, in addition to
is the distinct honor of choosing the next month’s theme.
Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.
The above quote has always intrigued me. As an athlete this quote was completely ridiculous to me. Yes, you want to enjoy what you are doing, but I spent all those hours practicing and training to win. It is by far the destination that matters, you “suffer through” the journey to get to the destination. So, I always hated hearing this saying. In fact, I laughed, sometimes out loud when I shouldn’t have, when teams chose this as their season’s motto. It baffled me why you would broadcast this to the opposition. If I walked onto the court or field and saw this on their jerseys or hanging it was equivalent to:
That team was easy prey and I was ready to pounce because to me, if this is your team’s motto, you are admitting defeat before the game even started. You’re acknowledging your team is bad and what is worse, you are ok with it! You know you aren’t going to be successful, so might as well just have fun along the way.You are complacent with losing. (something to this day, I still do not comprehend) These teams weren’t looking to go to Championships. They weren’t looking to have a winning season. They knew their season will end with the last game on their regular season schedule. The journey of the season was the important part to them, not the end result. Wow, why play a sport if that is your attitude! Well, that may give you a bit too much of a view into my psyche, but you should know I am one competitive individual. Don’t get me wrong, I know there will always be someone better than me, but I am always striving to be my best and losing, although I know will happen, is not something I accept easily.
Sadly, competitive sports have a cost, and your body pays the toll. As the years went by and the number of surgeries increased, I had to reluctantly move away from participating in competitive sports to watching more of them. But I was able to discover new ventures and in doing so, I have to admit that this quote took on a new meaning. I see this quote in a new light. It no longer signifies a weakness, instead it represents a different type of enjoyment. It is analogous to “Stopping to smell the roses” or better yet, “Stop to smell the wine’s bouquet.” No longer does it signify attack to me, rather it represents slowing down just enough to recognize how lucky I am to be having this experience. In this case, the experience of a glass (or two or three) of wine. A good wine can transport you. The aromas and flavors are magical and the journey is absolutely worth undertaking.
As you walk into your wine cellar or wine store to choose a wine for the evening, there is a process that you go through all to get to the finish. First, what wine are you going to choose? There are interactions to consider. What do you want this wine to do. You need to match the wine to the food depending on your desired outcome. You keep in mind some basic wine concepts like sweetness enhances fruit flavors and reduces sourness and bitterness. You ask yourself if you want your wine to enhance or balance the flavors of the meal. You may have a price set that you are willing to pay. Once the decision is made, you continue to the next step in the journey.
Yes, wine has recommended temperatures but there actually is no definitive temperature. White wines typically show best between 40o to 50oF. The lighter bodied whites more at the colder end of the spectrum. Reds are typically served between 60o and 65oF. For perspective, a refrigerator is routinely set around 35oF, so serving your wine directly from the refrigerator could be too cold. The concept of proper temperature is to allow the wine to shine. To allow you to taste what the fruit has to offer and if you are drinking it too cold you may be short-changing yourself on the experience. You are not allowing yourself to enjoy that part of the journey. You are taking a short cut that may get you to the finish faster but it is not as pretty. The adage of serving at room temperature really does not hold true anymore since most people heat their homes. (although you may have the same thermostat wars that we have in our house.) Serving at cellar temperature may be a more accurate statement.
The next part of the journey is by far the best part! It’s finally time to raise that trophy. You have looked, you swirled, and you have smelled. Go ahead, you deserve it! Take that sip you have so desired. But once again, don’t rush it! You savor the moment, so you let it sit on your tongue. You roll it around your mouth for a brief moment and you revel in its glory. Your taste buds begin to dance in celebration of what they are experiencing. You think it can’t get any better than this and then you take a bite of food and the flavors seem to magically change. You taking the time earlier in the journey to pair the wine appropriately has paid off. The marriage of food and wine; it’s like making it to the Super Bowl.
So you have made it to the championship but in this case it’s a little different from before. You don’t want it to end. You don’t want your journey to be finished. You want to “Focus on the journey” a little bit longer. You now completely understand the statement “Joy is found not in finishing.” Because in this case, finishing isn’t winning, it is losing. You may have made it to the big game, but you don’t get to raise the trophy. At the end of this journey, at this finish, all you are raising is an empty bottle. I don’t think there is a winelover out there who enjoys that feeling. In fact, it is by far one of the most depressing moments when you realize that your journey is over and there is no more wine to pour. So, in the case of wine, it is definitely the journey that matters. When you sit down for a meal with loved ones and/or friends and the conversation ensues the joy is all in the “doing the activity.” Don’t be so eager to get to the finish.