How the light gets in

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In his immortal song “AnthemLeonard Cohen says:

There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

I have loved that lyric from the first time that I heard it. It holds true for so many things. A crooked smile or some other “flaw” are often what elevate a pretty woman to a beautiful one. Milk has to go “bad” to become cheese. Billie Holiday had wonderful phrasing that is still imitated to this day, but for me the astounding poignancy of her music comes from imperfections in her voice.

Too much of a flaw, however, and you end with just ugly, spoiled milk, or Ashley Simpson. Not good.

The other night I was at a wine bar and ordered a glass of Chateuneuf de Pape and the first sniff told me that it was oxidized. Of course I sent it back and they brought me a new glass. I contentedly enjoyed the distinctive aroma of Brettanomyces in the second glass that the region is known for. Why did I seek out a wine that I expected to be flawed? Why is the one flaw desirable to me, but the other unacceptable? I would have been disappointed if there had not been a hint of bret on the wine, but the oxidation was offensive. Why? I have no clue.

Such is wine.

Happy Birthday, Lawrence Ferlinghetti! We should all be grateful to you, and happy that you are in the world with us.

  • Steve

    Hey Joe!
    Just trying to catch up on your blog…it’s been awhile, I’ve been pretty occupied with school and stuff…
    You might think I would have an answer for you…but, ultimately…there is no accounting for anyone’s ‘taste’. However, we just had a chapter about yeast fermentation and the different strains that are typically used…I would argue that a wine that has been fermented with Brettanomyces isn’t necessarily a flaw. Obviously the French don’t deem it as such. The point of using different yeast strains is because each one imparts something different to the wine (in addition to other pros or cons with regards to chemical reactions)…in the case of Brett…too much can be a bad thing…but, the point is to control how much of it comes through to the finished product. Oxidation, on the other hand, is generally a matter of improper sealing…or a bad cork. No?

  • Steve

    Hey Joe!
    Just trying to catch up on your blog…it’s been awhile, I’ve been pretty occupied with school and stuff…
    You might think I would have an answer for you…but, ultimately…there is no accounting for anyone’s ‘taste’. However, we just had a chapter about yeast fermentation and the different strains that are typically used…I would argue that a wine that has been fermented with Brettanomyces isn’t necessarily a flaw. Obviously the French don’t deem it as such. The point of using different yeast strains is because each one imparts something different to the wine (in addition to other pros or cons with regards to chemical reactions)…in the case of Brett…too much can be a bad thing…but, the point is to control how much of it comes through to the finished product. Oxidation, on the other hand, is generally a matter of improper sealing…or a bad cork. No?

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Joe Power

    Hey Steve! Glad to see you back. I hope school is going well for you. Are you enrolled in the ISG class this Fall?

    With brett, I tend to side with the Aussies and consider it a flaw, but I disagree with them that it always ruins a wine. As for oxidation, I am never a fan, but sherry lovers don’t seem to mind. I guess that was my point, what one person sees as a flaw another might enjoy. Some folks look at Cindy Crawford and see a beauty mark, some see a big-ass mole on her face. Et ainsi il va! ;)

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Joe Power

    Hey Steve! Glad to see you back. I hope school is going well for you. Are you enrolled in the ISG class this Fall?

    With brett, I tend to side with the Aussies and consider it a flaw, but I disagree with them that it always ruins a wine. As for oxidation, I am never a fan, but sherry lovers don’t seem to mind. I guess that was my point, what one person sees as a flaw another might enjoy. Some folks look at Cindy Crawford and see a beauty mark, some see a big-ass mole on her face. Et ainsi il va! ;)

  • Steve

    No, not enrolled yet…I did get my diploma though…and a letter stating that a score of 70% or better on the test gave you the right to proceed to the diploma program. So that was cool. There is a small chance (and, I mean very small) that we may be heading out of dodge by that time. It is unlikely…but, I am going to hold off for another couple of months…see how things play out.
    School is going well…but, it’s almost like seeing how a magician does his tricks. Plus, talk about over-analyzing wine…the amount of acids and enzymes and peptides and proteins and lions and tigers and bears….it’s a little overwhelming for someone who still hasn’t made their first batch yet…:)

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Joe Power

    Well, let me know if you are going to skip town so we can polish off a bottle or two before you go.

  • Steve

    No, not enrolled yet…I did get my diploma though…and a letter stating that a score of 70% or better on the test gave you the right to proceed to the diploma program. So that was cool. There is a small chance (and, I mean very small) that we may be heading out of dodge by that time. It is unlikely…but, I am going to hold off for another couple of months…see how things play out.
    School is going well…but, it’s almost like seeing how a magician does his tricks. Plus, talk about over-analyzing wine…the amount of acids and enzymes and peptides and proteins and lions and tigers and bears….it’s a little overwhelming for someone who still hasn’t made their first batch yet…:)

  • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Joe Power

    Well, let me know if you are going to skip town so we can polish off a bottle or two before you go.