Anyone who knows me knows that I will drink almost anything – at least once.
There was a time when I might have shied away from that description lest I appear uncouth, but lately I’ve begun to realize just how much better life can when the world assumes that you will gladly welcome its gifts. It opens the door for serendipity.
I miss serendipity.
Life has become so customized that it feels like we have pre-selected the element of surprise out of every experience. Music, movies, news, friendly gossip – we hear and see what we want based on preferences tracked by algorithms. It’s a world defined by Netflix queues and Pandora playlists and digital advertising tailored to our previously expressed interests. With every click of a “Like” button or tweak of a news feed, we narrow the influences we are exposed to, making life more predictable with every keystroke. We’ve built our own prisons of convenience and expediency, which we reinforce at every turn.
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Against that backdrop, a pleasant surprise seems all the more wondrous. Mine came recently on a Tuesday night when a friend dropped by and I opened a fairly ordinary looking bottle of white wine brought by a neighbor to our July 4 party. We were halfway through the first glass when my friend and I looked at each other in marvel: This stuff was great.
It had the gentle feel of a good Grüner Veltliner and the flintiness of a Sauvignon Blanc all rolled up with a touch of sunshine and hint of alpine flowers. We read the label (a step some people take before drinking what’s inside, I know) and found it was a Vin de Savoie Jongieux, from an alpine region of eastern France more often recognized for its red wines.
As I considered the blessings of happenstance, I thought of the other libations people have brought to my house in just the past few months – a pair of tiny bottles of pink Favaito Moscatel do Duoro from Portugal, a batch of homemade watermelon agua fresca and a 2014 Pinot Gris from Laurel Gray Vineyards. In every case, all I did to conjure these gifts was make it clear that they would be happily received.
Clearly, I have generous friends. I also like to think that my willingness to try anything encourages their creative, giving instincts. I find it’s much easier to give to those who talk about what they do like more than what they don’t.
It’s challenging to avoid focusing on our dislikes when almost everything in life is accompanied by a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote. Constant negative chatter leaves people with the impression that our minds are closed, our decisions made, our tastes formed, and that they need not bother us with the possibility of new discoveries. This makes it hard to share, explore and revel in the unexpected.
In an effort to keep serendipity alive, I’d like to proclaim that in addition to drinking – and eating – almost anything at least once, I will even try again those things that I have rejected in the past, just in case I was wrong the first time. When the universe showers you with pleasant surprises, the best way to keep the good vibes going is to do as the bumper sticker suggests: Wag more, bark less.
SIP TIP: The white Vin de Savoie Jongieux is the perfect wine for right now. Made from the Jacquere grape and grown on the warm slopes of the Savoie region, it has a bright, mineral quality that takes the edge off the summer heat. About $11 per bottle.