What Wine Can Teach Us About Travel

Discover Your Own Vintage Year

Very few times in our lives are we lucky enough to come across a phrase that embeds itself so deeply within our core that it becomes an intangible guide, cultivating the sustainable principles by which we live. A stalwart rock in our personal evolutions. I found mine, additionally attractive with its exact timing and succinct lyrical lure, shortly after graduating high school.

Back in our country of origin, my brother had taken part in a special wine tasting excursion at Slanghoek Winery located in South Africa’s Western Cape. Due to the endeavors of one of our wine-enthusiast cousins, the two of them had a private tasting with the estate’s viticulturist, followed by an opportunity to mix their own blend.

My brother mixed a rather delectable blend which he entitled The Toothless Wonder. Upon his effusive telling of the story my brother let it be known that before putting wine to bottle he asked the wine maker a simple but rather pertinent question: “What makes a good wine?”

Liquid wisdom

Despite my general lack of viniculture knowledge, I expected the answer to read something along the lines of appropriate weather conditions, an ever-so-particular soil nutrient content and the vast expertise of a wise weather expert. I was wrong. The wine maker’s response was that “a good wine is a wine that tastes good to you”.

Since the time this absolute gem hit my ears, near three years ago, it has encouraged me to pursue a life less formulaic. Since then adopting a ‘if the wine is good, drink it’ policy when it comes to new experiences. Far too often in today’s world we are told, blatantly or subconsciously, what success looks like and how to achieve it. To many, “success” embodies the American Dream; attaining a degree from a well-respected university and carrying on to a high paying job, comfortable house and a happy family. However, as happiness is a fickle thing, this model for success cannot suit every taste.

Find your own blend

At the time of taking my gap year, following through my indirect path to university, work and self-sufficiency, my alternate route has traversed bouts of every reaction from disapproval, pity, envy and praise. Despite a lot of hard work and failed attempts, I’ve landed studying towards a degree I am truly passionate about, working at a top company in my field of choice and fulfilling my life dream of seeing as much of the world as possible. After a few tries, I found my own particular blend of The Toothless Wonder that I thought was good.

Taking an alternate route is not easy, logistically and sentimentally; the system is not set up for those that do not follow it. However, with a dash of creativity and a lot of staying power it is possible. If a good wine is a wine that tastes good to you, the metaphor carries through to our lives – why drink to another’s taste and nod approvingly despite your hankering for something a little different? Variety is the spice of life and thus everybody’s definition of “good” differs. By embracing your own internal compass one should be able to find a life more fulfilling.

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