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The Chloé Grandpierre Column no9

An encounter

Being moved emotionally is to be alive

I often wonder what happiness is. This utopian soul-searching is quite normal for us humans but in finding an answer sometimes we overuse our thought processes. We conceptualise too much when simply acknowledging the wave of feelings that warms our heart is enough. The feelings can last a moment, an evening or a lifetime. However, we like to complicate our lives. The search for an answer becomes time-consuming as we stray from the most important things in life.

I like the concept of Amor Fati – Love of Destiny – dear to Nietzsche. It is to be able to live in the current moment whether it is pleasant or not. This might be the secret of wisdom: to know where we are thanks to the past that has shaped us while refusing to be only in a state joy or sorrow. To know where we are going without excitedly waiting for an uncertain future as we believe it will be better than what we have today.

Amor Fati is the acceptance of one’s own past in shaping one’s own future because in the end it is the present moment which is the most important. This is the one we live fully, one which is a multitude of successive micro-seconds.
So, what is happiness? It is to accept we have no power, except the one of living the moment of eternity. I think I have experienced this moment, I hope you do too but I have no doubt about mine. For me these moments were encounters.

Happiness is walking in nature to meet its dreams

When one of these encounters happens with a wine, time appears to stand still. We are so used to rushing about that even when you are seated around a table with friends, with a good meal and a good bottle of wine, time flies. I like to take my time to enjoy the quality before thinking about the quantity. A glass of wine against a bottle … minute against a second.

Recently, I had a time-stopping encounter with a wine. I spent a suspended moment when all dovetailed perfectly. The atmosphere of the dinner was very pleasant. The place was friendly: in a friend's property where the table was set in the main hall with on one side, the barrel cellar and on the other, a cellar full of large vats. Chandeliers lit the large room and the simplicity of the moment made it beautiful. Friends were there, family too with a brother to my left. The laughter was like an ocean, coming in waves without interruption. It was dark and we were happy to be together again. As aesthetes, the goal was to enjoy.

On the large table, a bottle of exceptional wine: bright red as the ruby of a Maharajah - a bottle, the contents of which were preparing to take me to Cloud 9. An encounter with happiness was waiting for me without my anticipating it.

This is my favourite wine, one that moves me, that pierces my armour flowing through me like a healing potion takes care of my soul. This is the wine that is a fluid between hearts and brings us closer because we talk about what it means to each other. It is a liquid jewel that escapes from its box and dazzles the mind. A potion created by a magician who has managed the alchemy between pleasure and fruits. It is the oil thrown on our inner fire to rekindle the flame.

I took time to swirl it in my glass to appreciate the escaping aromas. As Dali said, it whispered its fruity sensations in my ear.

Powerful and velvety, the wine expressed itself: blackberry accompanied by juicy cherry, also leather soft and fragrant, then liquorice and freshness. What a whirlwind of sensations!

A simple food-pairing would be quite sufficient, for instance rillettes with good country bread. Often the best things are the simplest.

During this evening, I have to admit I drank one glass of this nectar while three bottles were dancing on the table. Madness – no as the quantity of wine is exponential to pleasure. I decided not to be materialistic and to enjoy the moment. I had the intention to taste it, sip it and thought I did, with neither regrets nor remorse.

Locked in my own world, I put the ‘blood’ of the grapes in my mouth and I left for a waltz. There was emotion in the glass, balance and wisdom. In a short time I learnt to appreciate and envisage every inch travelled from the vines to the glass.

As I drank I had this incredible feeling of joy materialising in my hands. This is the most beautiful aspect of a wine, the one that uses our five senses and especially the sixth, our emotions.

Then it was time for the hearty main course of red meat with gratin potatoes. The perfect excuse to once again taste the wine!

And time passed and passed and passed whilst I was completely absorbed in the sensations. Velvet, where were you hiding? I've found you behind the fruit enlacing the toasted oak and now you are gently coating my lips.

With a gesture similar to a kiss I make a deal: let me tell you what I feel so you can understand who I am. With words I said to myself I began to describe this wine in secret: fleshy, full-bodied, silky, fiery, passionate, long, intense, delicate, sensitive, fragile.

I see you … a rider looking for its perfect steed in a Sheikh’s stables between heat and the fragrance of incense.

I smell you … hot jam that grandmother cooked and which is steaming up the kitchen windows.

I touch you … a gorgeous taffeta dress for a ball during which we can hear midnight sounds without fear.

I hold your hand and take you with me walking in Verlaine moonlight. I smile and I understand that you are ephemeral because every swallow takes me away from my first sensation.

It is an entirely personal experience to live through such an encounter. It is living a moment for yourself and no one can experience the same thing in a similar way. The fact is that the result remains the same: we had a date and now it's time to leave. Daydreaming, drinkable poetry, let me take the memory of the flavours, the aromas but let me especially take the emotion and imagination to draw upon whenever I want to share again the pleasures of this wine.

The top names often make the best wines, but this is not a golden rule. In fact it is not necessary to reveal the actual bottle of wine the encounter with which I have been describing as I am sure you've had similar encounters with a wine.

Perhaps it was a white wine rather than a red, with strangers rather than friends and family, in a restaurant rather than in a wine cellar. It matters not as it is the emotional ‘Cloud 9’ encounter which gives the sensation that at the time we were immersed in an ocean of happiness.

Being moved emotionally is to be alive. So maybe for me, happiness is drinking a glass of wine in order to meet my dreams.

Chloé Grandpierre
Professionnel du Vin