You find me writing from that familiar place once more.
I’m sat at my desk, staring aimlessly out of the window – as the sun illuminates the weeping willow in the courtyard outside. Although I’d rather not be at work on such a glorious day, the thing with this familiar place is that it is where I tend to come up with most of my ideas to post on this blog.
For this familiar place is as much about a physical location as it is a state of mind. A momentary lapse of concentration – a distracting thought whirling around inside my head – captured quickly on the PC or lost forever if I’m brought back in to the room too quickly to act. Three, two, one….
I find the same applies to memories of the drinks I have consumed. That what I may think of as being a familiar place to recount where I first tasted something, is as much in the head as it is in the location.
Take now for an example. The reason I’m writing this is because, as I look out of the office window – feel the warmth of the sun permeating through the opening; notice the leaves on the willow hanging low and motionless – thoughts turn immediately to the prospect of a nice, cool refreshing glass of wine when I get home tonight.
Tonight’s wine is one recommended in the press last week. It is a wine from Campania made from Falanghina, Fiano and Greco grapes. I don’t doubt for one minute that I will enjoy it immensely, yet something has stirred in my mind that is urging me to leave that where it is – and pick up a Roero Arneis instead. Maybe it is the fact that I mentioned that wine in my last post – maybe it is because I view it as a treat for a Friday night; or maybe, it is because in my head – Roero Arneis encapsulates in a glass, exactly what I feel when I look out on to such a day like today.
If you read that last post, you’ll know that the first time I drank Roero Arneis was in the middle of October, in the greying hills of Piemonte, as a blanket of fog draped over the neighbouring farmyard – so not a summer’s day in Leeds; like today.
It could be down to the characteristics. The spring orchard, citrus and grassy notes (or so I’ve just read) that dance across the tongue as you drink it. Or possibly because it’s my go to white wine when looking to elevate my purchases out of the £5 or 3 for a tenner buying habit – or, there is even a hint of the summer = white, winter = red mentality that I think exists in a lot of wine buying.
The same can be said for beer drinking. I can recall some of my favourite summery beers that I have drunk “out of season” or in darkened rooms, or in reverse, outside on a sunny winter’s day when only dark beers were on offer. If they resonated – as in, if I loved them so much I can pinpoint the exact time and place they were first drunk – then chances are they will take on a special, familiar place in my head. However, if as in the case of Roero Arneis – where I effectively drank it at the wrong time, with the wrong food, but in the right location – that familiar place may become warped. May end up being triggered more by my sense of pleasure and enthusiasm for the drink, than the actual memory of when it was first drunk.
This happens a lot with beers first drunk at home. No beer should really be governed by an evening sat in front of the telly, or downed whilst killing time on twitter. Instead the pleasure will find a spot inside my head, waiting to escape when I’m out – drinking and conversing with mates – hopeful that I might find a draught version of that beer on my travels.
This view goes someway to explaining why I am hesitant to read too much in to “live action” reviews of wines or beers. If you follow twitter, follow the chat about a beer launch or a new wine bar opening, it’s easy to come away with the conclusion that all that was drunk was near enough perfect. But then how much of this is down to context? How much of this is down to familiar places, with familiar faces and a familiar experience?
I’m not sure I’ve ever had a Roero Arneis as nice as the one I had in Piemonte that afternoon. Not sure if anything has ever lived up to that virgin experience. It was a wine unlike any of the commercial, supermarket driven ones I had had before. There was nothing glamorous about it – a simple, local producer doing what they do best. So surely that initial experience must all be down to context – sat with my pregnant wife after a great day in the vineyards, sharing chat with someone I looked up to for guidance on food and wine – who came through in spades.
I guess you could say that it was nothing more than a lucky coincidence why I love that wine so much.
Yet ask me what my summer wine is. Ask me to choose just one wine to top today off with; to sit and enjoy with Amy, with friends, to introduce to someone who has never had it before – and I will always say Roero Arneis.
For that wine’s familiar place is now so entangled in legend, that only a wine like that – can be drunk on such a glorious day like this.