Wine Advice (and Other Wasteful Wisdom) from My Father

1. It doesn’t matter how much a bottle of wine cost if you don’t like it. Contentment comes at all price points, even two-bucks.

2. There’s no right or wrong scent to detect on the nose. It could smell like blackberries with a snuff of tobacco for me and chocolate covered-cherries to you and no one would have a lick more expertise. Your nose. Your call.

3. Never give in to hype when choosing which grapes to try; Despite the bad reputation the movie Sideways gave Merlots ( “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving!), the fruit-forward red wine can be as deliciously dry as a Sangiovese and as richly robust as a Cabernet. The best men I know drink pretty-pink Rosés without snickering.

4. The better the company the better the wine. Sometimes we only think we had a phenomenal bottle when we really just enjoyed a phenomenal memory. Instead of getting hung-up on recreating the magic, hang-on to the company.

5. Don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy a fine bottle of wine. Wine is not a science and predicting its peak is pointless. There is something irrevocably irresponsible about opening a $200 bottle of wine on a Wednesday. Such wastefulness is almost Christ-like.

It is this last lesson about wine from my father that I am still learning.

For the last year, Mary of Bethany has been my biblical poster-girl for wastefulness. She is thought to be the woman who breaks a jar of perfume at Jesus’ feet as he approaches death in the Gospel of John, the same woman who we find sitting contently at Jesus’ feet while her sister labors in the Gospel of Luke.

Like wine, Mary’s perfume is sensual, fluid, and cerebral. This sort of luxurious outpouring of intimacy makes the disciples livid. It is inefficient and indecent. The disciples ask angrily, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”  They still hadn’t quite received the message that their newly forming Christian faith wasn’t chiefly about morality. It was about abundance.

It’s in the disciples’ reaction that I see myself, my own self-condemnation when I am too lavish with my time, my resources, my money, my love. I save my fine bottles of wine for people who will appreciate them, occasions that will warrant them. My father would not approve.

You see, Mary’s breaking and pouring serve not only a narrative function but also a symbolic one; her actions foreshadow the lavish breaking and pouring out of Jesus’ body for the salvation of the world. And for her own act of abundant faithfulness and dangerous intimacy, she will be proclaimed throughout the world.

Like the words of institution in the Lord’s Supper, her deeds will be told “in remembrance of her.”

Like the overwhelming scent of her perfume or an empty glass of tannins, her actions have trapped the memory of Jesus for future generations.

Surely such a message does not mean that we neglect the very real realities of the world’s literal poor. Instead, we are called to break-open and pour-out our bodies (and bottles) in lavish abandonment for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of God’s people, so that we are wasteful in our love for them, dangerous in our intimacy with them.

In this way, we will be Christian. In this way, I will remember my Father.

One response to “Wine Advice (and Other Wasteful Wisdom) from My Father

  1. loved this!

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