We just returned from the 21st Annual Monterey Bay Blues Festival - a sign of a summer in full swing. The Blues Festival is always in June, and along with the Monterey Jazz Festival in the fall, defines the summer season like two book-ends.
My wife has held season tickets to this event for 12 years - one of the many benefits that came with the marriage. And though I know she has a long list of past suitors that warmed the spot at the Monterey Fairgrounds known as "Main Arena, Section 7, Row 2, Chair #17", it is irrelevant - I'm there now. They are not.
And after three Blues Festivals, I have found what I like. Here are my top three reasons I think you should join us next year:
- The music
- The food, and
- The people-watching!
The Blues is (are?) a universal human language, so a people-watcher at a Blues Fest observes a wide spectrum of the human race. For some, the Blues resonate at their own personal frequency. When the music's playin', they find it impossible to sit still, and sometimes to sit at all, their bodies moving in an effortless rhythm perfectly in synch with the music. No matter their shape or size, it's a beautiful thing to see. It's like a surfer perfectly in tune with a wave.
Others have a more casual appreciation, letting the music wash over them the way a lazy sun bather lets a wave lap at their feet. Or perhaps their enjoyment of the Blues is simply more cerebral, less kinetic. I have no way of knowing, really, but I suspect these are the Blues fans who are seldom moved to their feet by the music, and when forced to get off their chair they often, um, (how do I say this tactfully?) "Dance to the beat of a different drummer".
These different types of Blues fans reminded me of the different types of wine fans. Over years of serving and sharing the fruit of the vine, I've developed my own "Wine Lover's Taxonomy", built to describe how various people relate to wine. It is a helpful Field Guide for anyone traveling the Wine Trail:
THE SENSUALIST- This person truly resonates to a good glass of wine. They don't have to think about it, they are simply thrilled by it. At times, thrilled beyond speech - a great wine can move a SENSUALIST to tears. Even a young and inexperienced SENSUALIST loves wine, despite their still empty warehouse of knowledge. Over time, will fill the warehouse with wine knowledge to gain a better understand their source of pleasure.
SENSUALISTS are frequently found in a city's best wine bar or wine shop, alone or in a group. They are easily identified because they listen as much or more than they talk, often asking questions of even a relative novice in hopes of learning just one more bit of information. But ask them any sincere and intelligent wine question and they answer effusively, eager to encourage the budding enthusiasm of a fellow traveler on their favorite road.
Find these people, surround yourself with them, your life will be better and you will drink well.
THE SNOB - An insufferable lot to be avoided whenever possible. SNOBS use wine as a way to establish superiority, usually through their favorite game of "One-Upmanship". They have always had a better wine than anyone, seen more wineries than anyone, visited more wine regions than anyone, eaten... well, you get the idea. Often found in dark, solitary corners where they like to spend time with the latest wine book. For fun, they memorize vintage charts, producer trivia, ownership changes, and other wine trivia. Sometimes, though increasingly rarely, are employed as Sommeliers or as salespeople at wine shops. Avoid these people. If related to one, we can recommend a good set of earplugs.
SHOWCASE COLLECTORS - S.C.'s are more interested in wine for its perceived value than for its flavor or sensory experience. Their motto is "Buy by the book", feathering their nest with wines that have received high ratings from people who "taste" the wine once, along with 40 or 50 others, but who likely never enjoyed a whole bottle of it next to their evening meal. Can become aggressive if you suggest this is a poor way to approach wine. Their call sounds distinctly like "the higher the price, the better the wine", a sound that makes commissioned wine salespeople quiver and drool.
THE CASUAL CONSUMER - By far, the largest of the groups. The C.C. enjoys wine, but is not sure what all the fuss is about. They would enjoy it more often but for unhappy encounters with SNOBS and SHOWCASE COLLECTORS, who made them feel as if wine could not be enjoyed unless and until it was understood. May not be able to dance to the "wine tune" (to loop back to my original analogy), but enjoys it, nonetheless.
RUT RUNNERS - These poor folks found a wine they liked long ago, and simply have insufficient energy or intellectual curiosity to try anything else. Often found pairing their favorite wine with every meal - from seafood to fish to hamburgers to poultry, and without regard for preparation. Their call sounds distinctly like "Mine is the best, to hell with the rest".
Wines Everyone Appreciates
Regardless of where you fall in my taxonomic scheme, the wines of our Refreshing Summer Collection are sure to please. Each wine in the collection was carefully selected for its ability to bring maximum pleasure to hot-weather meals and events. Enjoy!
Today's Quote: Music is what feelings would sound like.