The Mercury Head dime that rests attached to this bottle of Orin Swift Cabernet was already minted by the time the United States was attacked by Japan and entered the Second World War in 1941. Smoothed over with time, the second “1” in the year of the dime is barely legible for wear, the relatively soft silver having ultimately given way to time and persistence. The war, for Americans at least, lasted for four years, the aftermath for decades more, and will for decades more to come. Though books have been written on the subjects and, even in contradiction to my thesis, there’s nothing like war and the threat of our own mortality to remind us of just how superfluous wine truly is.
And yet, wine is in part perhaps what makes war so terrible, for wine, much like my son Titus who is playing downstairs with my wife right now as I cook dinner, makes life better with its daily presence. It is because we can live such extraordinary lives, so relaxing and beautiful is our existence, so saturated with creature comforts and luxury alike, that the threat of losing these things which we so often take for granted becomes an unbearable nightmare.
I sip and I cook. I check my email. The New York Times coverage of the war in Syria, the ongoing trouble of the Burmese, the border cities on the Rio Grande, and our own impoverished here at home. Sausage sizzles in the pan.
I sip and I cook. I check my twitter. Recently, I became acquainted with Bana Alabed, a 7-year-old girl who tweets from East Aleppo, Syria. I read her most recent tweet. “My dad is injured now. I am crying. -Bana.” The vegetables begin to simmer in butter. My dog begins to beg.
I have often professed to be and I remain a huge fan of Orin Swift wines; I regard Dave Phinney as an artist. Art, be it in fermented liquid or any other form, makes life beautiful. The notes of this wine, like the notes played on a piano by a highly skilled musician, add substance and depth to my existence. Phinney is a Mozart, playing between the keys, perhaps a bit off balance, yet perfectly in tune, and with undeniable purpose. Wine and music remind me that I am safe and secure, that I am happy and have a right to be. And yet, all humans have that right, the right to happiness and safety and whatever brings them joy in life, and yet so many do not experience it.
As I sip my excellent wine and make dinner for my family, safe and secure in my own home, I don’t feel guilty. What I feel is a longing for others to have what I have, a longing for justice and, above all else, for a peace that would allow my fellow human beings to pursue the lives they deserve to be able to live. I’m going to continue pondering this point, and I’m going to try to figure out how to wed my passion for wine with my love of my fellow human beings. Stay tuned, or if you can’t wait, make a donation to the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, The International Red Cross, your local homeless shelter, or whatever cause is closest to your heart. I’ll raise a glass to you for that.