What with so many other things to write about recently, I inadvertently let slip by a very important anniversary, a sin of omission for which I wish to atone for now; on January 23rd, the world celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, and I too would like to join the ranks of those honoring the life and works of this great man, and this great talent.
But first, some justification, as the question may already be in your mind as to why a wine blog would focus on this man and his music.
Given my firm belief that the consumption of wine is a deeply experiential endeavor that fully transcends the boundaries of the simple taste experience, I can confidently assert that I am hard pressed to conjure up reference to any another body of musical work that so flagrantly evokes the experience of drinking wine, or is so suited to it; perhaps it’s simply the French-ness of the music, or the mysterious Gypsy origins of the genius sewn into the code of the compositions;
perhaps it’s something in the curiously addictive dichotomy of hot-cold vibes, the blistering paces matched against the sensuous tones, the melancholic melodies against the buoyant techniques, the sex and the sorrow; or perhaps it’s modern conditioning, endless hours in wine bars spent sipping, sampling, and savoring to the soundtracks that have become now so standard.
Perhaps it’s a timelessness born of a specific time; something about the devil-may-care passions of a post-war Europe trying to rediscover its soul in the fevers of wine and song, the clouds of smoke, the loves and furies of Gypsy Jazz, the poems, the romances, the jazz in the cafés …
this headiness seems to speak through the decades to all of us; who doesn’t find it somehow strangely and spiritually decadent to sit with friends and loved ones over wine and bread and cheese talking deep into the early morning hours about anything and everything, as if everything said mattered more than anything in the world, as if a revolution of emotion were being born.
In the end, I don’t know what it is, I can only say that somehow, the sound of Django Reinhardt is the sound of drinking wine.
Tonight, my missus and I will raise our glasses (Syrah seems most appropriate; perhaps one of our few remaining bottles of the 2005 Lytton West Syrah), and toast to friendship and love, to passion and vision, to the old world and the new, to wine, to Django, and to each other, and we’ll do so as the last flickering rays of the setting sun light the bellies of the bay-cloaking clouds with their epic flares, to the strains of “Nuages.” If you’ve not already done so, I encourage you all to put a little Django on tonight, and have a glass or two of wine. There’s a revolution in the air …