I know why people don’t like what they consider to be overripe wines.
They complain about prune and raisin notes in reds and high alcohol in whites.
And I completely understand their perspective because I’m on the other side of the debate, or perhaps more precisely, somewhere in the middle.
You see, I don’t like green, tart, thin whites or herbal, vegetal, astringent reds.
So if I put myself in their shoes it’s easy for me to comprehend their view.
Over the weekend I thought about wine, and size (wine or otherwise).
On Saturday night I went to the opera, a rarity for me, and listened to the brilliant soprano Ruth Ann Swenson perform in The Marriage of Figaro.
Aside from wanting to hear her extraordinary voice, I had another motive. She lives around the corner from me, and I’ve walked my dog past her house almost daily.
So I had hoped to meet her one day (so I’d recognize her out of costume at the local grocery store) and had the pleasure after her performance Saturday night.
In person, off-stage, relaxed and casually dressed, she didn’t carry the royal aura of Countess Almaviva, her role in Figaro, but simply exuded a warm, smiling, charming persona.
Big and powerful on stage, she seemed more like the neighbor next door off it, laughing and smiling as she shook hands with her fans.
On Sunday night, I caught part of the NBA playoffs and watched Shaquille O’Neal work his magic.
He too is big and powerful, with a larger-than-life presence. But what wonderful balance and grace.
Big wines, like big personas, don't have to be clumsy or ponderous. But I’d rather have to deal with that size in wine or life than ponder a dilute wine or bland personality.
Wines don’t have to be huge to be enjoyable, just balanced. I like mine with flavor, depth and character, and whether a wine has those traits is something each of us has to define for ourselves.
Joseph Ganun — Plainfield NJ — June 19, 2006 6:15pm ET
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