Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's Come to This

Remember those Sinatra songs, "September Song" and "It Was a Very Good Year"?  I always think of them as autumn falls into winter; the progress of the year is such a clear microcosm of the progress of our lives.  You do have to work at it and maintain some objective self-examination for it to be progress in the other sense of the word, but time and change will move along with your active cooperation or without it.

They say your brain doesn't really reach maturity until your 20s, despite your conviction at the time that you're a fully functioning adult and probably know more than anyone younger or older.  As your physical plant and senses decline over the decades, your experience (if you're paying attention) just slightly makes up for the losses.  And your tastes change, which is interesting to observe; your political views almost always do too, which is sad and not flattering to your supposed more mature intelligence.  Can't win them all.

As a child, you probably liked sweet flavors and bright colors; an older gentleman finds that more complex flavors, deeper colors, and tradition suit him well.  Wine Spectator magazine has been going on about the recent stellar vintages of Port wine, which for some reason I now wanted to learn about (uh oh, old brain at work, I observed) despite never having given it a thought before.  So, I got a bottle after a little research, and liked it very much, thank you.  Not one of the $100+ ones, aged 20 or 40 years, but I would like to try that someday. 

Much like with the whiskies, there are many varieties and many ways to make it.  The art of blending is passed down; devotion to art and care and knowledge is required.  Port is racked, aerated, and blended with old vintages at different times during its often long maturation.  I decided to try the Tawny first because it is aged in oak barrels rather than in bottle like the Vintages (there's also Ruby and White and other subvarieties).  Thirty types of grapes can be used to make port, but it is mostly from two Tourigas and three Tintas, and all from Northern Portugal's Douro Valley.  And if you become a connoisseur, you can now purchase two leading examples of the 2011 vintage which are not supposed to be opened until 2030 or 2040.  As a senior's, not a youngster's, evening pleasure, I'm not sure how that timing would work out.

Age appropriateness has its limits, though.  I'm not going to get a Cadillac, chest-high pants, or on a televangelist's mailing list!  As the Most Interesting Man would say, choose carefully, my friend.


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