Comments on a star system

Tonight, I made a welcome connection between wine and star systems.

I don’t mean star rating systems, such as 5 stars for good, 1 for awful etc. but those twinkling lights in the sky.

The constellation Orion, imaged at left from d...

The constellation Orion, imaged at left from dark skies, and at right from the teeming metropolis of Orem, UT comprising about half a million people. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After a lovely meal at Villa Estet winery in Turkey, on a post-trip following the 2012 EWBC Digital Wine Communications Conference, I was walking across the courtyard and looked up at the sky. We had been saying earlier how it would be lovely to look up at the sky and see stars, since many of us live in cities with extreme light pollution, so staying in the deep Turkish countryside was a wonderful opportunity.

I decided to take a minute to enjoy the show, yet at first glance, the sky was just a dark, uniform canvas of … nothing. I felt the garden lights must be affecting my view so I walked around the building to hide from them. Still, the sky was barely punctuated with any lights or features. I could see a few well know constellations, but I felt cheated.

But as I stood there, reminding myself not to waste the precious few hours of sleep ahead of me, my eyes adjusted from having been in the artificial light all day, and slowly and silently, more points of light became visible. It made me look more carefully and closely. It took only a minute or two, but suddenly everywhere I looked were more lights appeared, more activity was happening and more detail emerged. It was amazing and exciting, as if the lights were being turned on for my benefit simply because I cared to look.

It occurred to me, having spent some days in Turkey, that this is much the same as wine. We think we know what we will see when we look at certain wine regions, or even certain wines. When we glance, our suspicions are confirmed. Our eyes are only adjusted to our daily environment and culture, and we see what we are used to seeing. But if we care to stop for a moment, make the effort to move around the corner to shield ourselves for a minute from what we are used to, and then focus for just a little longer than we might be initially comfortable with, then all sorts of things can open up to us. The detail begins to emerge, all the nuance becomes clearer, all the features become obvious.

Once you really look, the stories, the quality and the variety is there, but it takes a level of commitment to the search that most of us have not made. However, it can be beautiful if you do.

I don’t do star ratings on the whole, but if I had to, I’d give the stars tonight a 4 out of 5 for brilliance, and a 5 out of 5 for inspiration.

The wine wasn’t half bad either

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