Thinking outside the wine box and into the match box

A little while ago I was having a conversation with an English artist living in Paris.  It transpired that when he moved to France, he was clearing out his flat and found a huge collection of match boxes from all the different bars, restaurants and hotels he had visited across the world over the years.  Each match box brought back a flood of memories … a hot date, drowning his sorrows, lonely in a foreign city, a strip bar on a stag do, a business meeting.  He took a photo of each of these match boxes; some had wine stains, some were torn, some had one match missing, some had two, some had numbers written on them, some had none, and he made a photographic collection.

He found it fascinating that while each stranger in a gallery stared at his cryptic memories, it brought alive adventures and stories in their minds quite different to the true history of the match boxes.  The box with the silhouette of a woman on it conjured images of dark red rooms, scantily clad waitresses and clandestine liaisons when in truth it was all that was left of an innocent drink in a European hotel bar.  Imaginations were set afire with possible scenarios.

It struck me then that this is exactly how wine should be: a very personal experience to be interpreted in any way that moves the individual.  The sight of a label, the aroma of a wine, the taste of a wine; all these sensations have the power to ignites long lost memories, or to create imaginary ones.  Our senses are powerful when we allow them to be and can dance a mean and intriguing dance with our imagination when freed to do so.

As the discussion progressed we decided that we would put together a wine and art dinner; pairing the wine with not only the food, but with the photographs – a wine and a course to go with one of the experiences.  There was no prescribed right or wrong.  We were seated at a long table in the centre of a small gallery, the collection of match boxes hung around us on the white walls.  As the wines and the different courses were served people were swiftly drawn to different photographs that they felt worked best with the pairings.  Their individual sensory adventure spoke of different scenario’s which were represented by their own interpretations of stories behind the match boxes.  The interaction of the guests (none of whom would describe themselves as wine aficionados) with the wine was as fascinating as it was spontaneous and energetic.  It was a freeing experience; there was no talk of oak, of harvest yields, of organic versus biodynamic, just unadulterated enjoyment, debate and laughter.

So this Christmas indulge in a glass or two; take a sniff, take a sip, sit back, close your eyes and let your imagination take flight, you never know where you might end up.

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to you all.

Alex

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