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Now, a strictly scientific explanation of air, and its interaction with wine, is a good place to begin, but probably not to end. The poet in me just won’t accept that. My experiences with great wines are deeper, more magical, living experiences. Eventually I had to accept that the entire interaction between humans and grapes is a living, breathing experience: during planting, tending, harvesting, at every stage in the process, and now, even during drinking. When two life forms meet, we start to use a different vocabulary: instead of showing, we speak of telling; instead of tight, we say reserved or inexpressive, instead of open, forthcoming. All these ways emphasize the living, expressive quality of wine. It cuts to the chase of the whole enterprise: wine communicates.
So again, what does Air mean? If we try to imagine what it may have meant to people transfixed by wine in ages past, at least in the Western world, we will eventually land on a common use of the word in Greek philosophy and some of the ancient sciences. Air is one of the four basic elements, or vital forces, of life. It is an animator. A bottle of wine suddenly exposed to this force, Air, literally comes to life. But that’s just the beginning. Air can also mean Intelligence or Soul. Air is the beginning of things; a process which gives, and then allows. Wine exposed to Air first comes to life, then learns to speak.
All these metaphors, fanciful as they seem today, somehow tally with those magical nights with bottle, glass, and . . . air. Even to this day, in certain esoteric sciences, Air signifies communication and interaction, a process of flowing, a two-way street. And is it any wonder? Wine drinkers have known this forever!
But we should not always look to the past for inspiration, but the future. As much as I cherish the time I spend with friends when the wine is still in the decanter, it gets better when the wine begins to speak. With a Soiree, this process happens almost immediately. Sitting in the decanter, Air competes with Fire; temperature becomes difficult to control and we rarely catch the wine at its most expressive. I want my wine to become part of the conversation immediately. I don’t mind if it takes center stage! Sparking it to life with a single pour is my master stroke, something I’ve always wanted to do but am just now realizing that I can, and that there’s nothing wrong with it! It’s just one life unlocking life in another -- a beautiful thing, a perfect expression, a true conversation.