Extreme Chardonnay by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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Wine drinking can be serious business, at least for some people. For oenophiles, when talk turns to varieties and vintages, it’s a rush not unlike cocaine. For others of us, however, wine is a pleasant little trip to the corner shop, not a trans-Atlantic crossing on the QE2; more like a snap on my smart phone than an Ansel Adams silver gelatin print.

Last night, I had dinner with a good friend—a certain native Kansan, local author, raconteur, and (by the way) our very own current Presidential candidate. A glass of red was waiting for me when I arrived; we sat down in front of the fire and sipped. Life was good. A few minutes of conversation and a few sips later, my glass needed recharging. “Help yourself,” my host said, “its from the box on the kitchen counter.”

What? Did I hear that correctly? Now I’ve had box wine before. It can be quite quaffable, good even, at least once you get past the idea of a cardboard container for what was once deemed to be the nectar of the gods. I’m even convinced that if you blindfolded me and gave me a taste of a good box wine and a pour from an equivalent bottle, I’d never know the difference. But such is marketing (or outright snobbery) now that I have to stifle an urge to judge the book by its cover or in this particular case, my host by his box.

And yet, I have to admit that boxes make a great deal of sense. Let’s say you’re shipping wine from Australia or Argentina. You’ve got miles to go before you sleep and glass can break and corks can leak. But boxes are sturdy things. The pressure vacuum keeps any air out and the last time I dropped a box it fell on the floor with a gentle thud, not a shatter of glass. Boxes pack better, too. Bottles have to be laid to rest in crates packed with straw, swaddled like babes in a manger, while the square lines of wine boxes can lie cheek by jowl in an even bigger box. Economy of scale, I guess.

Here’s the point: all this wine talk: it’s all in our heads. Last night, after we put a large dent (fold?) in the pre-dinner box of wine, my friend and I opened a good bottle of Chianti and after that was gone, an equally good Cab. I found that as the evening poured on, I was perfectly content with what was in my glass, not fussy about the container from which it flowed. Maybe there’s a life lesson there; I’ll mull on it tonight over a box of wine.

After careers in both international development (Special Olympics) and secondary education (Landon School), Jamie Kirkpatrick bought a home on the Eastern Shore in 2011. Now he’s a happily married freelance writer and photographer who plays golf and the bagpipes with equal facility. Jamie’s writing and photography have appeared in The Baltimore Sun and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He is currently at work on a new book called “Musing Right Along.

Letters to Editor

  1. Kathi Donegan says:

    Well, cheers! That was as pleasant to read as my favorite wine is to sip. Look forward to more of your Musings.

  2. MARY WOOD says:

    I hope you are planning to vote for our local Candidate who promises to retire and leave the governing to someone else, but does not promise to forgo Vin,bottled or boxed.

  3. Jamie, What a nice comparison view on wines. Your articulate writing style is always refreshing. Keep up your writing. I love reading your work and you truly have a gift. Thank you. And Kat as your cameo photo opt on this article is simply adorable 🙂 All the best. John

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