In praise of Bacchus

From the heart of a nouveaux oenophile.

Wine….Divine Wine. Potion of the Gods. Revered across this earth since the beginning of civilization. My own passion for it is new, but so intense that I feel compelled to share it. Which explains the inspiration for this website. It is where I will write about all things wine and invite you to share in my passion.

Bacchus – the God of Wine in Greek Mythology – is unique in being that rare Divinity with ties to India – the land of my birth. The story goes that when Bacchus, the son of the Divine Zeus and Mortal Semele, grew up, he discovered the culture of the grapevine and the mode of extracting its precious juice to make wine. Through complex machinations inherent in the meandering plots characteristic of Greek mythology, he was driven forth to be a wanderer through various parts of the earth. He set out on a progress through Asia, teaching the native people cultivation of the vine. The most well-known of his wanderings is his expedition to India, which is said to have lasted several years. And so the story goes that Viticulture may have first reached India via Bacchus and Greece…………………

Now to the main point of these musings. I recollect quite vividly the very moment I felt there was magic and yes, poetry, in wine. Until that moment, my association with wine was strictly limited to the occasional glass offered at dinner parties. Coming from a culture where the only beverage consumed before, with or after food was aqua pura, my exposure to alcoholic beverages came well into my twenties and reached its peak with a fondness for beers. What started with a sip of Scotch whisky from my father’s glass(I had to spit it out right away) was followed by Beer offered by my older brother at a college party (I developed a taste for it after a few tries).

A move across the oceans – and some – to the heartland of America, and a break in my career, allowed time to explore the country near our new home in Indiana. As avid lovers of the outdoors, my husband and I stumbled upon a wine trail brochure and decided to explore it, more in hopes of discovering the beauty of the countryside than any deep interest in wine. At one of our first stops we were taken on a tour of a vineyard followed by a visit to the tasting room. The shiny marble counters, gleaming wine-stems of all shapes and sizes, an intimidating array of wine bottles lining the walls lent an air of hushed opulence. A very knowledgeable attendant placed a list of wines in front of us and gave us our first lesson in tasting. Trying hard not to look like country bumpkins that mistakenly strayed into a winery, we followed the instructions. Sipping and spitting our way through half a dozen reds, whites and in-betweens, turned me into an overnight Wine fanatic. That explosion of sensory experience was unlike any other in my repertoire upto that point. I could scarcely contain my excitement at the nuanced titillation of the taste buds and olfactions. Poetry seemed to pour forth effortlessly as I tried to describe it. That was my Eureka moment. The moment my whole life had been racing towards.  What more can I say? It was also when I decided I would find a special place for this elixir of the Gods in my life. So here goes…………………..

Wine can be hard on your wallet or a little forgiving – depending on what you choose. At one of my candlelight soirees inspired by the inimitable Hyacinth from my all-time favorite Britcom “Keeping up appearances” – I gathered a group of unsuspecting friends for a little experiment with wine. A blind tasting comprising two reds and two whites. The results were interesting. While the more expensive of the Pinot Noirs came out the winner, the same did not happen with the two Sauvignon Blancs. Turns out Traders Joes Coastal, a brand barely a notch above their famous three buck chuck, was neck-and-neck with a more expensive one from New Zealand. The results confirmed what wine critics and lay consumers like me had concluded – while price can be a guide, it is by no means a guarantee of quality.

My intention in this space is to share with you my ramblings about the wines I taste through the week. The goal being to have at least one post per week – giving me the perfect excuse to indulge in my Oenophilia!!!! Depending on the strength of my wallet, I will try to include bottles from a range of price points. So here goe the first one of my musings – for which I have selected – you guessed it – the Trader Joes Chardonnay. At $ 4.99 a pop, you really can’t go wrong.

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