I was already to rate a new wine today, but then on my way to the grocery store Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter came on my iPod. It's one of those songs that always takes me back to earlier days, mostly because Strawberry Wine was my introductory song to country music. Although country music is not usually associated with wine, there is a lot of country music out there with wine as the subject!
What I love about this song, is that it captures how I, personally, feel about wine. I've always believed that wine is good when it involves a story filled with good memories. When it comes down to it, I think wine includes a lot of country! Considering grapes are an agricultural product like everything else we eat, my romanticized vision of winemaking has always included fields of grapes on hillsides, surrounding forests, picnics on Sundays with the lingering harvest in the wind, a good bottle of wine on the outdoor table, good food, family and friends. For some reason, that vision reminds me of this song - as if someone can recall their young adult summers based on a sip of strawberry wine.
I can honestly say that I have never had a sip of "strawberry wine" but that there are certain wines that take me back to a memory. Chambourcin, a hybrid variety, is the first wine I ever made. I know every time I drink a good Chambourcin, especially from one of the local wineries close to home, I can remember sitting by my fermentation bins, using a hydrometer for the first time, showing my high school ag teachers, while reading books on winemaking in our lab. The memory is fresh and clear. A memory, although filled with several wines and Cognac, takes me outside of Nantes, France, when a family opened up their world to me on a holiday afternoon. I have never sat and ate so much food while drinking so much wine and doing absolutely nothing over an entire day. I can remember that was the first day of my life I had a fresh apricot (I know, bizarre, but I remember...) I woke up every morning that I was staying with this family, walked out to their small barn, woke up one of the guests, and grabbed 2 apricots to enjoy while preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Any time I hear the word "Cognac" I go back... And finally, although funny to admit, any time I think about touching a bottle of Lambrusco, I'm immediately a college kid again - catching dinner at Olive Garden with one of my girl friends, having group "intellectual conversations," or preparing for some sort of celebration. It was the drink of choice among the ladies!
My point is this: Wine is something to be shared, complementing a moment in your life no matter how big or small the occasion. I always feel, especially here in the Napa Valley, that it is easy to get sucked into the grandness of what wine has become in the new world - a modern show piece, a symbol of social status (although, to some extent, it always has been since its creation), and an excuse to drink alcohol in a classy way. Truthfully, some of the best wines I have tasted are forgotten to me. The ones I remember the most, and hold dear to my heart, are the ones that I drank while with family or friends, enjoying a new experience, or an old tradition. Strawberry Wine captures that feeling - one that I encourage all my readers to try... no matter what variety, style, vintage, or region you're drinking.