The theater of wine

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For Digital First Media

“This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today”
— David Bowie

The stars do indeed look very different today.
Two of my favorite stars disappeared from our universe. The brilliant artist, of all creative genres, David Bowie, and the awesome thespian Alan Rickman. Bowie, of course, was a master of reinvention and remained relevant in the world of music and fashion, well beyond many of his contemporaries had faded into oblivion. So many of us attempt to stay relevant in our own universes, in our own careers. Some of us succeed.
Since entering Act Two of my life and career and devoting less of my time to wine and more of my time to the arts and culture I have found my world to be warmer and richer than the previous world I inhabited. I am still passionately engaged in the act of imbibing in order to continue to write this column, which I adore sharing with my readers every week. In addition, I present the amusing Phill and Jill’s Brilliant Wine Sketch on my globally heard weekly TuneIn Radio show with archeologist and restaurateur Jill Weber. And, of course, for those who engage my services, I show up to host wine-tertainment events in their homes and leave with as much of their belongings as I can fit into my suitcase. Oops did I just type that out loud. And yes, as Mr. Shakespeare is so often quoted: “And one man in his time plays many parts.”
So on Sunday as I sat in the theatre watching a thoroughly absorbing production, I was seated next to a critic, and listened to his comments on the pros and cons of the performance meticulously analyzed with the precision and dexterity of a surgeon’s knife. And I drifted from his soliloquy into the realization that theatre and music and art and wine are very closely related and that I hadn’t really exited one world and entered the other but merely juxtaposed the magic of the winemaker for the magic of the artistic director or choreographer or studio producer. And the one constant remains the critic. A person who expresses their opinion on the production of a wine or a performance, which is clearly a subjective matter, and one which cannot justify dictating whether their readers indulge in the experience or not.
A winemaker and a director are handed the cream of the season’s crop whether it is a manuscript of a play or the juice of plump grapes. Each must determine how to work their magic and produce something palatable for their respective audience. Some take the traditional route and stay the course with the more predictable audience pleaser while others, often younger and ready for change (as was Bowie’s style throughout his entire career) will take risks and approach their work with a new spin, a fresh eye, a modern twist. The result might not appeal to the older, often more conventional enthusiasts yet will be hailed as a remarkable stroke of genius by the younger, less prosaic audience.
Jill and I have been tasting new spins on old grape varieties, in particular grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc which tend to be moving away from the grassy, asparagus flavors and adopting fresher, less predictable dispositions. We are discovering some incredible, affordable, esoteric gems in a world still dominated by Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays. We don’t avoid tasting new grape varieties or modern interpretations of old ones. And we applaud the winemakers who succeed in bringing us exciting new productions on a regular basis. And that’s precisely the same view I take with theatres and artistic directors and the musical geniuses whose music comprised the soundtrack of my life. Life is too short for it to be dulled with the safe and the familiar. If you want a standing ovation, excite us with your skill and your art. And, your winemaking. Alan Rickman said: “A film, a piece of theatre, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.” David Bowie’s famous lyrics included these lines: “Time may change me, But I can’t trace time.” Life has only one inevitability. One given. And that is our ultimate demise. Life is too short to spoil it’s adventure by being predictable. Wine, for me, is part of the art of life, the theatre of life. Be surprising, be unpredictable, be creative and above all else, be exciting. Cheers!

Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly podcast heard on TuneIn Radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4 “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining

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