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Wine isn't a hobby; it's a Siren's call
It starts out small. Perhaps after stumbling on a great wine shop or going to a wine tasting. After a while you're squirreling bottles away in an improvised wine shed in the basement. You start planning your vacations around the grape growing season. Soon, you find yourself remodeling the house so you can fit more people into the kitchen.
Wine is an alluring thing. It tastes so wonderful and makes everything amusing. It goes with food, celebration, romance, relaxation, and it's always best with other people. Sharing wine with others is like sharing a piece of history. Each bottle of wine has its own story and like a painting or sculpture it is always interesting to get another person's perspective.
It is a deep and never ending subject. The more you know about wine, the more you realize you don't know that much about wine. Its history walks hand and hand with the timeline of the world. It is believed that Noah, a beer salesman with an ample boat, traveled around the Mediterranean selling beer and grape vines. War has profoundly affected wine production. The Romans planted vineyards everywhere they went. The Moors on the other hand, neglected the grapevines of their occupied lands. Even when the area's economy was fueled by wine production, as in the case of Jerez, Spain, the Moors chose to allow Sherry production to come to abrupt halt. The Nazis spared France's vineyards, but destroyed the monuments built around the grapes perhaps as a show of power and adoration. Popes and royalty have always had a thirst for wine and in many cases would build their summer homes near their favorite vineyards.
The New World has its short, yet corresponding history as well. The first European settlers of Australia planted vines before they had even erected a permanent structure. Here, in the land where the streets are paved with gold, it is common to hear stories about poor European immigrants who came to California for a better life. They are perfect examples of the American dream and many of their legacies live on today. Two poor Italian immigrant brothers with the last name of Gallo could only afford a few parcels of land when they arrived here. Within their lifetimes they became an icon in the domestic wine industry.
Wine beckons to us in the form of a quiet evening at home, with friends at a local restaurant, as a vacation filled with winding roads and trellised vines, as an inviting little wine shop full of undiscovered treasures, and as an important part of civilization over thousands of years. The thrill of sharing a bottle of wine that you've saved for a special occasion is further enriched by a description of a sunny thousand year old village, a tragic struggle of mans inhumanity to man, or a 'rags to riches' tale.
Wine becomes more than a beverage when looked at in terms of its history. Each bottle also earns a stature from its caretakers. It can be pampered and prolific or come from vines barely able to produce grapes because of its difficult yet extraordinary conditions. Like collecting dolls, coins, cars, or any other object, wine has a subculture all its own. Unlike collecting other items there's always hope that after admiring the bottle and hearing the story the owner will pop the cork and drink it with you.