Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

The Untold Birth of Cabernet Sauvignon (okay, it’s been told) | September 1, 2010


“a person or thing (as in fiction or drama) that appears or is introduced suddenly and unexpectedly and provides a contrived solution to an apparently insoluble difficulty.”

-definition of deus ex machina from merriam-webster.com
When you think of very unlikely pairings, what pops into mind? No! Not Capri Sun and an eight-ball. You’re a sick puppy. I was thinking more along the lines of romantic pairings, and one in particular jumps out at me like a cooler full of Capri Sun at a 70’s disco coke party:
It’s well-documented in the annals of music history that David Crosby is the father of one of Melissa Etheridge’s children. Etheridge, being a card-carrying lesbian, didn’t exactly get busy with the mustached troubadour. Crosby- rather- was a sperm donor, and the child was a product of artificial insemination (however, do you think he was listening to “Come to My Window” to get into the mood?).
Anyway, the partnership and method by which this child came into the world was- needless to say- unusual and unexpected. Now, let’s say this couple- a couple which I would have to point out is not the most handsome of unions- gave birth to a child who ended up looking exactly like, say-
-a Brooklyn Decker. That, my friends, is deus ex machina (literally, “God out of the machine”). A resolution so ridiculous and unexpected; something absurdly convenient sprouting immaculately from somewhat dire and irresolvable circumstances.
In a way, such is the story of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is, perhaps, the most recognizable and prolific of the red grapes. The undisputed alpha-male of vitis vinifera. The crown jewel of Bordeaux. Yet, as much as the purple-stained scrolls of wine history teem with legendary names like Lafite-Rothschild, Latour, Opus One, and Haut-Brion, the primary foundation of these wines has a relatively short history.

According to studies at UC Davis, enologists discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually the product of a wild and spontaneous cross between native Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc that occurred as recently as the 17th century. A “cross” is when two subspecies of the same species (in this case, both parent grapes are vitis vinifera) genetically merge to create a new subspecies. And sure, in this case the “parents” are talented and perfectly fine on their own, but here’s the rub I can’t get past: how did a generally medium-bodied red variety and a crisp white variety get together to create the powerful, expressive, and incredibly profound ambassador of the red wine world? I guess there’s some science in there. Some protons and electrons banged around and, boom-goes-the-dynamite…Ms. Decker. Maybe I need to ask UC Davis guys. That was a pretty lackluster explanation.
Or, perhaps this happy accident of nature was Divine Providence. Maybe it WAS deus ex machina. Impossible, but yet it happened, resolving the previously-hopeless search for the greatest grape in the world…
And we are thankful for that.
Want to drink some Cab Sauv with hundreds of wine lovers around the world? Join in the fun on Twitter this Thursday, September 2nd, by participating in the worldwide #Cabernet tasting event. Just grab a bottle (drop me a line if you need some recommendations), pour a glass, and start interacting. Or, you may also find a local live event in your area. Click HERE to RSVP and get more information.

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