Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: Tasting to know
Coming back home for the summer has taught me that, much like a young child, I can’t sit still. Once I feel settled, I feel uncomfortable to know that there is more out there to see and experience.
Yet, I never feel comfortable unless I am settled. In other words, I am a homebody who makes her destinations of travel feel like home.
Whether it is by introducing myself to the locals and their favorite restaurants and dance clubs, or making my accommodations more warm with clothes hung up in the closet, a nice bottle of wine and personal music playing in the background, traveling has become natural to me.
And I think I have had this traveling bug since I was a child, always asking my parents to fly here and drive there even before I had a form of identification and a suitcase.
Although we rarely went because of the responsibilities at home, I always had my mind elsewhere as a child, somewhere that could spark my creativity, somewhere that could make me think.
Much like writing has become one of my passions, so has traveling. With each destination I take something new away. Sometimes it’s a new passion like photography, other times a friendship, and most always a hilarious and unforgettable story.
Maybe it is a state of mind, maybe it is just a phase, or maybe it is my preferred lifestyle. But whatever it is, I couldn’t live without it.
That being said, when I travel, aside from the arrival, departure tickets or the driving route, I never have a plan or a time schedule.
With a plan comes the expected, a peacefulness and structure. Without a plan comes disaster, randomness and spontaneity.
This is the reason my cousins and I found ourselves cruising toward Napa Valley in a black convertible because we didn’t have a plan. Nor did we plan to watch the fireworks sprinkling across the San Francisco Bay from a trolley as I rang the bell and we sang “God Bless America” throughout the city.
And the randomness and unforeseen circumstances put this trip at a special place in our hearts because we never expected that the troubles would turn into such blessings.
As we sipped the tender and sweet white wines, the deep and memorable red wines, and indulged in an assortment of rich cheeses at a Napa Valley vineyard, I felt like I was becoming worldlier with all this recent traveling.
But, I knew I still had a plethora of customs to learn about the hobby.
This is the reason I asked a woman who, from her gentle way of swishing the liquid and intense stare at the legs that it created along the glass, appeared to be knowledgeable in the field.
Although this particular wine tasting in Napa was one of many for me, I wanted her expertise to make me feel more at home with the wine.
I asked her in a broad way, ” How do you wine taste correctly?”
She said, “You must taste to know.”
Whether she meant to refer to just the art of wine tasting or something much deeper, I’m not sure. But, I would like to think that she wanted me to think creatively like I do when I travel.
While life is about stability, it is also about chaos. And while life is about comfort it is also about the unfamiliar.
So, in other words, you must love to know. You must fail to know. You must travel to know. You must laugh to know. You must enjoy to know. You must relax to know. And most importantly, you must taste to know.
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