When I was young and a little lost, I visited a winery with a friend. My friend knew his way in the world of wine; so where he led, I followed.
Among the wines I liked at the cellar door was a bottle far beyond my modest budget. “Buy it, anyway” said my friend. “And open the bottle on your 40th birthday.”
I hesitated. My 40th was years away. I had never spent such a sum on a bottle of wine. My knowledge was meagre. My palate poor. The money and wine would be wasted on me…
This self-defeating monologue went on and on; those were my days of endless self-reproach.
“Buy the wine”, my friend insisted. “Consider the purchase an investment in yourself.”
In retrospect, that was the precise moment – and they were the exact words – that led me to the world of wine.
My friend could be hard on me – sarcastic and curt – but he loved me, too, in his strange, impatient way. And with one insightful and generous suggestion, he tied my future to a bottle of wine.
I made the investment. I carried the wine home and placed it in a box beneath my bed. There it remained until the night of my 40th.
The years in between were a time of trial and error. Years of fluctuating growth and faltering progress – but growth and progress, nonetheless.
I was finding my way in the world, as everyone must, weaving together some sort of pattern from life as I encountered it.
And whereas once I drifted into the future filled with doubt and apprehension, forever lamenting the fixed but fleeting nature of time, so now I found ever-greater meaning and purpose in the day at hand.
There’s an old tale about a teacher and some schoolboys out for a walk in an open field. They come to a wall seemingly too high to climb. So the teacher makes the students throw their hats over the wall, leaving them with no choice but to follow.
The wine in the box beneath the bed was my figurative hat: the investment in the future that called me forward and instilled in me a sense of positive anticipation.
It lent to the future a feeling of optimism and reward. And it compelled me to make the most of the present – to ensure that I might have things worth celebrating when the time came to pull the cork.
Sometimes, I took the wine from its box and held it before me as a knight beholds the Holy Grail. There, in my hands, in a single bottle, the past, present and future. I was in awe. And hooked. Completely hooked.
The wine itself? It hardly matters; the journey was the thing. But, for the record: a Best’s Great Western 2002 Bin 0 Shiraz; a fleshy, aromatic blend of spicy dark fruits, aniseed and cedar.
I loved it. Everyone did. I shared the bottle with family and friends at a pub in South Melbourne. The day I turned 40, I felt present and ready.