There was a time when I found wine-drinking to be really pleasurable. I would have dinner with my husband in a nice restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine as a relaxing accompaniment to my meal. I didn't worry about pairings. I didn't scrutinize whether what I was eating demanded a red or white. I just made a selection on a whim, whatever I felt like drinking at the time. That was in Connecticut. Those days are over. Even Lucy's wine-stomping is gone!
California wine consumption is different. First, people really "care" about what they are offered in restaurants. In fact, everyone seems to be an "expert." At home, we debate what is best to offer to friends or to take to a friend's home. Hmmm...
Wine-tasting takes the issue to a whole new level. We go to a wine tasting room, and glasses are filled and offered to us. Do you like the Zin? Do you prefer the 2009 or 2010? Does it have a good mouthfeel? "Tart, zingy fruit, definitely styled to go with food, with appropriately strong but not overpowering. It would be great paired with lambchops. How about the Pinot Grigio? "Complex aromas blend apples, limes, and a musky whiff of ripe melon. Mouth-filling and quenching, dry and tart, a distinct minerally note playing counterpoint to fresh, snappy citrus on the palate." Am I buying any of this?
Wine-tasting feels like a science experiment to me. It's all about comparing and analyzing. (Like the optometrist's question, "Which lens looks better to you: Number 1 or Number 2?") Did I taste carefully enough? Did I make a mistake I will regret if we purchase the 2009? I am rolling it around in my mouth, parsing the feel and the fruit overtones on my tongue, and making a decision. Yikes! What hath grapes wrought?
I am now in a similar dilemma with car-shopping. I need to ship my beloved auto to my daughter in Boston and purchase a new one - quickly! Challenge: it's the end of the model years for most cars, so the dealers have only a few leftovers (that may or may not be configured the way I would want), and they may be many weeks or months away from getting something in that meets my criteria. But what exactly are my criteria?
What color do I want? (Non-American cars basically have gray/silver, black, white, and some version of red - no blue, no green.) Do I want a sporty, stiff ride or one that's floaty and doesn't feel bumps in the road? Am I comfortable with the powertrain? Do I prefer a V6 or a V8? Do I want a 205 hp engine or a 305? Steel alloy wheels? And, finally, is the user interface, including the navigation, climate, and phone controls, user-friendly enough - touchscreen or mouse or wheel? Is it comfortable enough for a lefty who is pretty useless with her right hand. Analyze! Compare! Scrutinize! Enough!
I don't want to be too frightened by the technology to be comfortable driving my car. I don't need scores of buttons, bells, and whistles. I don't want to be spending my time selecting rather than focusing on the road. I want to like the way it looks, feel safe driving it, and be able to fit it into parking spots. Yes, I want to be excited about my car, proud of it, feel good about it. But not another science experiment!
I remember getting my first car in what seems like a lifetime ago. It was a gift from my parents when I graduated from college. I didn't do research at the time. I didn't use the internet-of-the-moment, the kind that required you to wear clothes and shoes and go into a building filled with books and magazines, to do research. I just told my parents I wanted a Camaro. Done! No discussion about engine size, wheel types, firm vs. squishy ride, touch screen vs. wheel. One decision: what color? I didn't analyze the ride; it just provided me with a means to get away, anywhere I wanted. Ahhhh!
Car-shopping was simple - just like drinking wine: no analysis, no scrutiny, no decisions, no science! Just enjoyment. Shouldn't that be enough?