Solitude. Wine. Solitude and wine. At first glance, those two words don’t seem to go together. Isn’t wine meant to be enjoyed in the company of others; friends and loved ones? Of course it is! And don’t they say drinking alone is a sign you might have a problem?
This is my entry for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, #MWWC26. As last month’s winner, Beth, the Traveling Wine Chick, had the honor of selecting this month’s theme. And she chose “solitude.” Challenge. Accepted.
This month’s theme was announced on the first day of my 30-day trip to Québec City. It turned out to be a timely announcement. Québec City is in the Canadian province of Québec, which is commonly known as French Canada. In Québec, the people speak French. I don’t.
Some of my first thoughts on solitude came during my first few days of my trip, as I struggled to find what I needed in the Super Marché. Shopping in an unfamiliar grocery store is stressful enough, but there is a sense of being all alone in a crowd when you don’t speak or read the language. It certainly gave me a much greater appreciation, and sympathy, for immigrants to the U.S. who are not English speaking. Fortunately, most of the people there do speak at least some English (Canada is, after all, officially a bilingual country), and are very accommodating, so I was able to survive. (In my defense, I tried to learn French before our trip. I really tried! I did manage to pick up a few helpful terms and phrases, but darn it, I’m old!) In true stereotypical Canadian fashion, I even had several people apologize for their poor English. I always responded that their English is far better than my French! Then we laughed together. Laughter is, indeed, a universal language.
But this isn’t the MWC. It’s the MWWC, with the emphasis on the first W…wine! So, whereas wine and solitude don’t naturally seem to go together, please allow me this opportunity to wax poetic.
I submit to you, dear reader, that wine and solitude are actually symbiotic. While it is true that wine is meant to be enjoyed with others, one of the unique and magical truths about wine is that everybody experiences it differently. Pour a taste from the same bottle for 10 different people (OK, let’s assume it’s a magnum), and each will describe different aspects of the wine. Some with limited wine experience may taste only fermented grape juice, while others might describe a host of fruit, floral, herbal, or mineral notes. There are no right or wrong answers; the enjoyment is in each individual’s own, unique, subjective experience.
Take this concept to another level with me. We’ve (hopefully) established that a group of individuals experience the same wine differently. In much the same way, an individual within that group will experience different wines in different ways. It is in the enjoyment and ethereal experience of a given wine that the individual drinker is transported to his or her own, unique place. A place of solitude.
Open a bottle of Bordeaux, and share it with a loved one. Allow the aromas to invade your senses. See the color in the glass as you swirl the wine. Now, to the tasting. That first sip, rich and decadent, may transport you to the rolling hills of the French countryside. You imagine are walking in the vineyard; the cool evening breeze in your hair; the gravelly soil crunching underfoot. You are utterly alone in this charming place. Solitude. Your partner experiences something completely different. Her Bordeaux fantasy involves a Parisian bistro; an outdoor table on the sidewalk, the bustle of the people passing by; the charming waiter with his attentive gaze, ready to refill the glass at a moment’s notice; and the delightful meal with which to enjoy the wine. Solitude.
It’s a hot, summer afternoon. You open a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. The straw color immediately cools you as you anticipate the cold, crisp refreshment. Take that first sip – instantly you are carried away to the soft, warm sands of a tropical beach; relaxing in a chaise with a good book. The sun is warm on your skin, the sand soft and warm on your feet. You are utterly relaxed. Solitude. Yet your partner has been whisked away to a cool mountain lake; on the porch of a cabin overlooking the rippling water. Hungry trout beckon, but rising to grab the fishing pole would merely disrupt the moment. Solitude.
Wine is an enchanting, magical beverage. Depending on your circumstances, it can bring relief to a stressful day, enjoyment to a social or family gathering, or release you to indulge in your own unique, relaxing, peaceful solitude. Different people, different experience. Different wine, different destination. Where will your next glass of wine take you?
SNAP! We’re back! Still not convinced? Are you worried about the whole “drinking alone” stigma? Do you have a pet? If so, you’re not drinking alone! If not, and you are interested in adopting and being a good pet parent, then get thee to the nearest SPCA and rescue a deserving dog or cat.
There are hundreds of dogs and cats that need a loving home, and you will never drink alone again! (Note: I do not advocate adopting a pet simply as a drinking buddy. If you are not willing to devote the love, time, and attention needed to care for a pet, please don’t.)
Now sit back, pour a glass of whatever strikes your mood, let it take you where it will, and bask in your solitude!