Grapes start as little things.
Perfect little bite sized balls of goodness.
But they’re also immature.
And as delicious as they are when paired with cheeses and slices of delicious roasted meats, crackers and honey, and perhaps a few nuts, they can be better.
You see, there’s this thing about those little things. They’re balls, and do you know what can happen with those?
They can get crushed.
Crushed, I say.
Smashed and beaten to a pulp.
Squeezed of every drop of sweet life until there’s nothing left… Rather like life does to young souls, I think.
Then when the juice is collected its thrown into a vat and day after day after day it is stomped repeatedly.
Again and again it is stomped and stepped on.
Next it is put in the cold… Almost in the freezing cold. Not enough to freeze it to death but enough to make it utterly miserable and mostly dead.
Cold, man, cold.
After that, its suffocated. Denied of air… Of oxygen… Of fresh breezes.
Sometimes this happens in big, cold, miserably unloving steel vats. In these cold, cool, lifeless, unforgiving, suffocating steel vats someone tries to spice things up a bit by throwing some of this or some of that into the mix. Like cheap parlor tricks. Other times this happens in truly wooden barrel.
Then, when you might think things couldn’t get any worse, acid is poured into the mix.
Then the fining begins. Do you know what that is? Making things finer. Want to know how things become finer?
Mixing. Mixing a little bit of this crushed, smashed, stomped on, nearly frozen, suffocated, and acid burned bits of this and that together.
You know… Other grapes.
A little bit of this broken grape, a little bit of that one.
And then, finally, after some preservatives are added to preserve all the things that have been done to those tender, sweet, horribly tortured grapes, and after all the gunk from the bottle of the barrel is filtered out, the stuff that is left is bottled and stuck into a hole to age for a lifetime or more to age.
In the dark.
Alone. (Did I say that?)
Until one day someone finally goes down some cellar steps to discover what comes from those grapes having had all the sweetness and crispness and innocence completely and utterly decimated.
Beaten to a pulp
Stomped and stepped on
Left to sit in the freezing cold
Denied even a single breath of fresh air
Filled and mixed with acid
Closed up in a dark space utterly alone
Until one day the beauty of all that torture is revealed to be fine, deliciously smooth, and worth every misery.
At least I hope it is. Because if not, I’m gonna be in trouble when all this is said and done.
Originally published 18 October 2018