Competition – Diana Robinson

Diana Robinson writes, ‘Diana Robinson grew up in Northern California not too far from Napa. Even so, she never thought much of the famous wine region, as all alcohol was taboo in her large Mormon family. In her mid-twenties, she decided she wanted an education and put herself through college and, eventually, graduate school where she earned a master’s degree in British literature, with an emphasis in Elizabethan drama. She teaches both high school English and History in Los Angeles and absolutely loves working with teenagers. It wasn’t until her mid-forties that she discovered wine, which is now a great passion. After taking the Wine Scholars Guild’s class on French wines, just for the fun of it, her nephews took her to France for a tour of Bourgogne and Champagne. It was the trip of a lifetime! She currently resides in North Hollywood with her Siamese cat, Siduri.’ Her (unedited) entry in our seminal wine competition follows.

I was born and raised in a religious and cultural tradition in which wine is forbidden. Worse than the prohibitions of earthly pleasures was the philosophy that all happiness could wait for the other side. I watched people I loved needlessly endure hardships with this promise in mind. Even though the tenets of the religion claimed life was meant to be enjoyed, in reality the members hung their hats on this promise of things to come and saw life as a burden.

For many reasons, I left the insulated and rigid, read everything to open up my world, and stumbled across some timeless literature which did get me thinking and helped me on my way. The beautiful poems of Omar Khayyam especially spoke to me, as he cautioned against the folly of spinning away our present lives. I was also struck by the wisdom of the mythological goddess Siduri, from the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. She claims our mortally is what actually makes it possible for humans to experience happiness in the here and now. As I made my personal journey away from this religion, I imagine it is fitting I discovered wine, especially when one considers the influences of both Omar Khayyam and Siduri, as the poet grounded his argument to live in the present using wine as a symbol of the joys life has to offer, and the other is the goddess of fermentation or as I like to call her, the “Cosmic Barmaid.”

My adventures with wine started when a friend thought it was something I should try, and she ordered us flights of cheap whites at a touristy wine bar in Jerome, Arizona, circa the spring of 2007. I couldn’t even say exactly what the wines were. A couple of Chardonnays, a Chenin Blanc, a Pinot Grigio. I had no idea what to expect, but I wasn’t prepared for the diversity in front of me. Each one was quite unique. I had to explore this more. Rather impulsively, I reached for my friend’s flight which consisted of a different lineup of whites. What was going on here? How could these glasses of fermented grape juice be so distinct? Even when from the same varietal of grape, such as the Chardonnays? It was not what I was expecting, and it was downright fascinating!

Over the years (only around a decade to be honest), I’ve thoroughly immersed myself in the study of wine. A couple of WSET and Wine Scholar Guild classes later, I must confess, I am absolutely in love with wine. Yes, I love that wine can taste like almost anything under the sun, that it changes dramatically with time and even with the food one eats, that each year one never knows quite what to expect, that it can actually reflect the soil in which the grapes grow, that it can be art. How amazing is all of that? Yet, in addition to these marvels, which are more than enough, for me wine is also an adventure and a topic of study, but, most importantly, it is highly symbolic of the freedom to live my life to the fullest and to actually love life.

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