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The Essence of Wine: Candle Wax


Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch

It belongs with the sounds of slowly creaking doors, the smell of old books and the feel of parchment on the fingers. It promises comfort and respite, and a reassurance that everything will happen in its own time. As the wick shortens and sputters, the world collapses to a bright point of light and then, darkness, where aromas of melted wax linger like ghosts in an old mansion. There was once a time when a candle was the only tool to keep this darkness at bay. These days a whiff of paraffin might as well be a glimpse of buried treasure for many wine lovers. Riesling aficionados certainly know a good thing when they smell it. Just as it suffuses old books with that ineffable aroma, time brings new dimensions to many white grapes, but especially Riesling. Fruit becomes wax, herb and stone — once bright metal now gleams from under an attractive patina. Smelled more often than tasted, notes of molten candle wax bring a surprising dimension to wine, lending a gravitas that plays foil to other flavors as it whispers mysteriously of times gone by.

Smith Madrone Riesling, Spring Mountain District, Napa, California, USA
Weingut St. Urbans-hof "Piesporter Goldtropfchen" Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany
Torbreck "Woodcutters" Semillon, Barossa Valley, South Australia
Pullus Pinot Grigio, Ptujska Klet, Slovenia
Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli, Kakheti, Republic of Georgia
Domaine Marcel Deiss "Burg" White Blend, Bergheim, Alsace, France
Graf Hardegg "Von Schloss" Riesling, Niederoesterreich, Austria
Henschke "Julius" Riesling, Eden Valley, Barossa, South Australia
Renaissance Vineyards "Vin de Terroir" Roussanne, Sierra Foothills, California, USA
Bibich "Lucica" Debit, North Dalmatia, Croatia
Benanti "Pietramarina" Bianco Superiore, Etna, Sicily
Vodopivec Vitovska, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

This is part of an ongoing series of original images and prose called The Essence of Wine

Comments (4)

Cass wrote:
07.11.12 at 3:40 PM

So you are supposed to smell the candle as you drink the wine? Or is this a metaphor?

07.12.12 at 12:32 PM

Very interesting! Great piece!

Sarah May wrote:
07.12.12 at 10:45 PM

I love this series on your blog and I hope that you publish it into a book when you are done. I would love to have this to give to my wine students.

09.10.12 at 10:49 PM

Perfectly done! I really like itÖ I thought you were just going to explain what kind of essence candle waxes brings! You really did actually, but in a very deep way. Bravo. Iím going to remember this piece my whole life. Thereís something Iíve learned.

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