The Joy of Restraint

Lovers Leap grape vines, restrained

Lovers Leap grape vines, restrained

I'll restrain myself, and give only a few examples of an idea that has been stirring in my head. Restraint -- are you ready -- can be fun. A good thing, too, given that restraint is one of the ways we can fix all manner and scale of problems, from overblown American wines to the biggie - repairing our planet. Starting at that end of the spectrum, my first positive thoughts about restraint came from one of my usual inspirations, Kentucky's farming writer Wendell Berry. In a May, 2008 article in Harper's, Mr. Berry defined the absence of limits as hell itself.

Smaller calls for restraint caught my attention this week. Two different wine writers called on American wine makers to work against the nasty trend of increasingly sugary, alcoholic wines. The New York Times writer Eric Asimov used words like "finesse," "lightness," and "vitality" to describe a small movement in California toward lighter bodied Pinot Noirs.

Dave Macintyre in the Washington Post sharply criticized syrupy American syrahs, calling them "monsters," and brought up that "f" word again: "Winemakers need to stop deadening our palates with excessive alcohol and learn to leave the finesse in the wine."

I am itching to give more examples, but I will leave you some space to think about restraint, if you wish. I'll be curious to know what pops up.