Full disclosure, this post is in fact a long and winding road towards examining questions of Ageability and Zinfandel.
I hope you read it.
But if you’d rather just let Jameson Fink tell it to you in his deliciously Without Worry Way, then just click here: Wine Without Worry
And as Devo once said, That’s Good.
And so, as Captain Beefheart once said, Follow The Yellow Brick Road:
Around the corner, the wind blew back
Follow the yellow brick road
It ended up in black on black
I was taught the gift of love
I had a poetry instructor once, who loved to use the phrase: “Slaughter Your Darlings.”
In the context of a poetry workshop, this essentially meant revise via cutting out your favorite sections; the assumption being that whatever your most cherished attachments were, they were probably wrong, and you needed to break past them somehow. The implication was, in fact, that your adherence to your “darling” was in fact the very thing that was holding you back.
Put another way, don’t assume that what you think is good and true, is in fact good and true.
I actually often found this to be a very helpful exercise as regards the revision process, because I generally ended up either a) making actual, and often dramatic, progress with the poem, or b) reconfirming for myself that I’d been right in the first place; resulting in greater confidence as regards the original form of the poem.
So, let’s slaughter a darling, shall we?
The longer a wine can age, the better it is.
Put another way:
The best wines are the ones that can age the longest.
Meaning, the “darling” is the assumption that, at the end of the day, the ultimate barometer of quality for a truly fine wine is its ageability.
We hear iterations of this all the time, and it’s certainly a favorite bragging right amongst a great many collectors; how long they’ve laid their wines down, how far back they go, how deep their vertical is, etc.
And we see it in reviews all the time, and on labels; ours included. Ageability estimates and projections.
So, here goes the “slaughter”:
Aged wine doesn’t taste good.
What if it doesn’t?
What if this most cherished of beliefs isn’t true?
What if we shouldn’t be aging wine?
The modern Don’t Age Classic.
Drink Now! Approachable! Fruit-Forward! Faster, Faster, Zin Cat!
Should you age it?
No! Zinfandel doesn’t age!
Except, wait a minute …
Google “Zinfandel Doesn’t Age,” and what do you get?
A whole bunch of people who say things like, “People always say Zinfandel doesn’t age, but …”
But, DOES anyone ACTUALLY say that Zinfandel doesn’t age?
DO people always say???
Maybe they don’t?
Maybe, in fact, the actual “darling” in question, is the idea that people think Zinfandel doesn’t age?
Well, that’s a bit of a twist, isn’t it?
So, who slaughters who, and how?
Let’s look at the key questions:
First off, should wine age, and is that important?
Second, can Zinfandel age, or not?
Third, does anyone actually think it can’t?
How to answer?
Well, I for one don’t think an “airport” novel that you read once and throw away is a bad thing.
But I also don’t think it’s great literature.
To be a great work of literature, it should reward you for return visits. It should not only require your engagement, it should necessitate it. It should balance enjoyment with challenge, and it should move you. It should be just challenging enough that you feel great when you finish, and alive while you try. But not so difficult that you feel angry trying to get through it.
It should become a part of your life. Such that you will be ever so slightly different a person forever more for having read it.
To continue the metaphor, I, for one, don’t think a pop song that grabs the airwaves for a couple weeks than disappears is a bad thing.
But I also don’t think it’s great music.
To be a great work of music … etc. I imagine you get my point.
So the question is, should wine age?
And the answer is, it should if it can.
Once again, should wine age?
It should if it can.
And please note the inverse; it shouldn’t if it can’t.
It shouldn’t if it can’t.
There is nothing more irritating than pop putting on airs.
So have we slaughtered any darlings after all?
But we have, perhaps, created a delightfully self-fulfilling maxim:
Ageable Wine Should Be Aged.
And to that I say:
Faster, Faster, Zin Cat!
And that then, completes the poem.
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