Wine Wonderings – Ecclesiastes, in a bottle

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”   Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I look back over the years, and recall some of the best times I’ve known in my life, and relish each one of those moments.  Many of those memories were accompanied by wine, and just a handful had wine at the very center.

One of those times was nearly 20 years ago, when I took a trip to Southern California with my then boyfriend (who is now my husband), and after a few days with family, we opted for an afternoon exploring Southern California’s blossoming wine industry.  We made our way to one particular winery, and restaurant, where we enjoyed a fabulous tasting and delicious accompaniments.  Of course we came way with several bottles of our favorites from the afternoon, and after the journey back home put our cargo of vineyard gold into storage for a special occasion.  Days, months, and yes, years passed, and although we spoke fondly of that time on a regular basis, we couldn’t bring ourselves to actually open the bottles.  We thought that if the wine ended that somehow so would those memories.

I know, I know…how distorted can you get.

But I digress…

A week or so ago my husband was rummaging around in the basement, and when he came back upstairs he was holding an old, familiar bottle.  Yes, a bottle of memories from that long-ago trip.  He asked if we could open it, and with a slight hesitation, I agreed.  I held the bottle, with just a small lump in my throat, and held it up to the light.  I could see sediment floating around in the wine, and it was evident, even through the green glass, that dark, rich wine we tried all those years ago was now faded.  I set the bottle on the counter and put the corkscrew into the cork, but only half of the crumbly cork came out.  Even my ah-so was no match for it.  I pulled out a strainer, and then shoved the cork into the bottle with a butter knife – not exactly a professional thing to do, but oh well.  I poured the wine through the strainer and into a glass, but the liquid in the glass was faded, old and very tired looking.  A quick sniff of the glass yielded an aroma that was very off, and my head instinctively snapped back from the glass.

My heart sank a bit, but when I looked over at my husband, who was standing just a few feet away watching the whole scenario play out, he smiled at me and chuckled a little bit.  He told me that he was sure that “they make more” and that the wine they make now is probably even better than what we tried all those years ago.  He took my hand and we went downstairs and picked out another bottle for the evening, which was indeed a good choice.

After this experience I couldn’t help but think about the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes…there is a time for everything…under heaven.  In the world of wine, there is indeed “a time to keep and a time to throw away”.  I thought about how much life is like that wine.  We need to drink in the joy of life when the time is right, and stop putting it off until things are “perfect”.  Celebrate life, enjoy the moments, and drink in the perfect fruit of joy.  Like wine, we can hold onto life so tightly that we never allow ourselves to enjoy it.  And when a bad bottle happens, throw it away, let it go, and move on to new wine, and new joy.  So pop that cork my dear friends, and celebrate the joy that today brings.  I promise you won’t regret it.