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I taste red...

Updated: May 6, 2022

Who is drinking with me this month? My long time friend Steve, a fellow artist and performer. Steve and I also team up in the fitness realm, he attends boxing and yoga classes with me and we are accountabili-buddies in our weekly Weight training Wednesdays. Let's get on with our conversation!

Amber & Steve: Cheers!

We sip the wine like we're pros, swirling our glasses, chewing to get all the tastebuds involved, then:

S: I taste red.

A: The color red?

We laugh devilishly

A: I taste, like, moist wood. Like, you know how cedar chips get chewy?

S: Mmmhmm, yeah. I just got that sensation. Like a huskier, right in the back of the mouth.

A: But it kind of stays with, like, a pepper burn. Like a, not so far as like cayenne, like a, I mean just the feeling in the mouth stays with a pepper feeling. Not the taste of pepper, the feeling.

S: Yes. Yes. Hmmm.

A: So, I don't know. Pinot Noir, it seems like I avoid it frequently just because it tends to be, well, this is what I tend to think it is, so much lighter, and I'm like 'why bother’? Kind of like how merlot got the bad rap, how many ever years ago with the movie "Sideways". They dissed merlot and then merlot sales...

S: Byeee

A: Plummeted

S: Aww

A: It wasn't the problem of the grape! It was an opinion in a movie and people took it very seriously. I don't know where my idea of Pinot Noir came from. Maybe it was just a social occasion sort of thing but, I don't gravitate to it because I don't think of it as having much flavor.

S: Well I can see that.

A: The cass... capse....

S: Gesundheit

A: ... caspsas... capsaicin feeling. That's what the pepper thing is. The capsaicin.

A: So, what, so it's light.

S: It is light.

A: But, it still has that... so it's not like an anvil being dropped on your tongue. Like a cabernet often can.

S: Mmhmm. We're still in the warm, the warmer... uhh... honestly I wouldn't hate this in front of a fire.

A: I was thinking the same thing. In front of a fire, like, yeah.

We sip and quizzically taste.

S: When would we drink this?

A: Well, I don't think it would be late at night.

S: No, this is an early evening fire.

A: Yeah, for sure.

S: Like this is 7:00. Sun hasn't gone down yet... It's still potentially a good time for like a porch fire if you have...

A: Actually that's a great... so this would actually be really great for, like, one of those little copper fire pits.

S: Yeah, copper cauldron pit.

A: Yeah. Yep. This would be good for that. Because heavier, like the anvil sort of thing like cabernet on your tongue I feel requires heavier surroundings. Like the drier firewood feeling, the drier surroundings, the heavier chair or sofa, heavier clothes, just heavier.

S: No, this is the feeling of we're still in winter but I really want it to be spring.

A: Yeah.

S: Yeah, and, here, cheers to that.

We both laugh and clink glasses.

S: Okay. I fell like we have established the mood in which we want to consume our wine.

A: So let's take a stroll on over to the wall.

We walk over to the paintings mounted on the gallery wall.

A: Take a look through and see what it really matches.

S: So, hmm. Okay, instantly drawn to the colors of "Nowhere to go but Everywhere". A little more-so than "Peace Road" as much peace as this wine brings me I'm not necessarily drawn to the right mood. I do love the vibrancy and the, um, the juxtaposition of the vibrancy of this blue in "The Town Bicycle" with, in addition with the subtle notes of the wine. Subtlety of the wine helps bring out the vibrancy of the painting. In my opinion.

We continue walking alongside the wall to look at other paintings.

S: Okay now, interesting. The "Shepherd" has warm tones. Not so much on the red side, but there's still giving you that nice warmness of sunlight, that I also fell this guy (pointing to the wine) has. Mmmhmm.

A: So is this one you think it matches the best or want to take another stroll through and then we'll pull up the chairs and pour another glass.

S: You know out of all of them I think this is the one I'm most drawn to.

A: The "Shepherd'?

S: The "Shepherd".

A: Alright! Let's fill up the glasses and pull over the chairs!

Wine is poured and squishy chairs are pulled in front of the painting.

S: For me there are specific sheep that are more 3D than others.

A: Mmhmm.

S: But it's interesting how they pop out.

We sit awhile in silence staring at the sheep. We refilled our glasses...

S: Yeah, I can stare at the trees for quite some time.

A: (laugh) Why is that?

S: Um, I love finding the subtle hints of orange amongst the green. I don't know, my brain sees a shadow and yet in the shadow it's green. Whereas in the light the tree is more auburn yellow. That's fun for my brain.

A: Wanna know something super fun? I never noticed that.

S: No?

A: Nope. Sure didn't.

S: That the shadow of the tree is...

A: Nope, never noticed it.

We both laugh

S: Haha! You're the painter!

A: Yeah. But you know, things just seemed right. There's not always a logical, technical reasoning. And I never noticed that. That's super fun!

S: The trees. And this little cluster of sheep. Over in the left is my favorite.

A: Oh really? Why that cluster?

S: Well it looks like there's a little lamby. Naww. But the texture from the whiter sheep, um, I don't know, something just, like, makes me happy about that. It brings joy.

A: I've always liked the butt of the one right in the middle.

S: The other fluffy one?

A: My eye immediately goes to the butt of the one in the middle.

S: Butt... oh yes! Fluffy sheep butt. Now my eyes are going to be drawn there. I like how I'm not expecting it to be a pop of blue sky.

A: Hmm. What do you expect it to be?

S: Well because the majority of the painting is so autumn-y I'm expecting a sunset. I think it's a nice breath next to so much of the yellow-y ground. You know, the field.

We stare and drink...

S: I'm also a little sad for the tree in the background.

A: Ha! Why?

S: It's so lonely. It's just, like, by itself up there.

A: Why do you think it's lonely?

S: No sheep friends by it.

A: So the story, or the matching of the wine with the painting itself, so what flavors of the wine are brought out in the painting? And vice versa. I'm gonna go grab the bottle.

S: Well, let's talk about that tree again.

We laugh

S: And how there's a subtle hint of something in the background that wants to be seen, or tasted, rather, but doesn't come out until the very last, tsp tsp tsp, oh that's where that was! That pepper feeling.

A: Mmm

S: So that, we'll call that back tree the pepper flavor.

A: Whoaf! I'm getting a lot more herbs. But it's still the same wine. Yeah let it open up more than 30 minutes. Cuz this, yum yum yum yum yum.

S: Can I say something like someone who is high? Don't you love how the tree in the foreground's trunk is darker than the tree in the background? That's just, like, hitting me in a spot where it's like, yeah, just because I'm closer doesn't mean I get to see it better. Just let me stare at your art for a while, I'll tell you what you didn't see.

We laugh, and drink...

S: Also kind of, um, moving field. You know, the wine. As wine tends to help with...

A: Make the eyes swim a little bit more?

S: Yes.

We laugh, and drink...

S: Um, not to the point where these poor sheep are burning in a field, but let's say there's some motion coming to life in the long grass.

A: So it still looks like a field and not like everything's on fire?

S: Correct. Yeah, we're not on fire yet.

A: And yet, nobody seems to care. I mean if it was a field of fire...

S: (bleats like a sheep)

A: ... the shepherd doesn't care, his sheep don't care, the trees are like 'whatever'

S: I'm a tree...

A: Yeah. I'm casting shade. That's it.

S: The body language of the shepherd is giving me like 'it's fine, I got this'.

We laugh

S: I got this.

A: Yeah, he kinda does!

S: It's all good, there's like a billion sheep over there, I got this, it's fine. And that's ultimately for me what brings the whole piece into a lovely, like, sense of peace. Yeah. I got this. You keep being you Nature. So how do you feel about this pairing. Do you feel that this Pinot Noir is doing your painting justice?

A: I think they do go well together. So you made a good choice. I find it interesting because I know all of the paintings very well, literally inside and out, and if I were to intellectualize, this is not what I would have chosen intellectually. But that's not what the point is.

S: Yeah.

A: The point is to allow the senses to work together.


S: The tree in the foreground got way more 3D.

A: Way more what?

S: 3D

A: Oh 3D! I thought you said "greedy"

We laugh

S: Potentially! (pause) Yeeaaahh. I have a much better sense of, like, how big that tree is. Now.

A: I kind of feel like, since you said that, this is a great picnic wine.

S: Gotta be out in nature!

A: I just feel like I'm kind of on the hillside.

S: Yeah! And I want to be on the hillside.

A: Yeah, but like, I'm comfortable, it's not too hot it's not too cold. And it's just kinda peaceful. You know, cuz the shepherd's going about his work but he's got this.

Steve laughs

A: You know?

S: I got it, guys.

A: Yeah. Alright cool I'm gonna stick out up on this hill, keep drinking my wine and have my picnic, watching you do your work.

S: You go, friend! Don't holler if you need help because I have no idea what to do.

A: No. No. Don't holler, we don't want a stampede.

S: No thank you.

S: (bleats like a sheep... again)

A: I think cows are much more dangerous.

S: Oh probably. There an actual...

A: I mean sheep are...

S: They are actual ton animals, whereas sheep are...

A: I think you can lift them. I'm not so sure I could lift a full grown sheep, though.

S: It depends on the sheep. I'm sure that it's no bigger than a...

A: They're big, you try to wrap your arms around those.

S: Well okay that's true if it's fluffy.

A: Yeah.

S: But if it were sheared already.

A: Yeah, well, I don't know. I mean look at the size of his arms. Wrapped around one of the larger girths.

S: And then, at that rate, I would have to ask, does the sheep really want to be picked up?

We laugh

S: And that's how you know I'm a vegan.

We laugh

S: Does it really want that right now? I'm not sure it does, why don't we just put it down.


A: Let's switch chairs.

S: Yeah, let's do it.

We switch chairs

S: Um, oh, this is a different perspective.

A: Yeah, right?

S: Also have to admit that the leafless twigs coming from both trees...

A: I was just looking at those as well.

S: Those guys and then also this one down near shepherd guy.

A: The heavy one?

S: Yeah. I bring this up because I have consistently gone back to those little leafless twigs the entire time.

A: Yeah. And how do you feel?

S: Calm. Happy.

A: Why?

Pouring wine, glasses clink

A: I think I bulldozed your glass the last time.

S: Yeah you did, but... Mmmhmm. (burps) Excuse me.

We laugh

S: Similar to a fire, like staring into a fire you're not seeing anything necessarily in the flames but you understand something.

A: Mmm. It's kind of like that little bit of pepper back in the throat.

S: Yeah!

We laugh

S: So heat, there's still heat. In this wine.

A: But it's not hot.

S: Nooooo, no no no no no. This is a subtle heat.

A: Yeah, I'm fine in my sweater.

S: I do appreciate having a hat on, though. I do.


A: Is there anything emotionally that you feel? And you don't have to.

S: So I think it, the first two that popped in to my mind were "contentment" and "joy". Why my brain jumped there, yellow, a joyful color, solar plexus, um, just seems like everyone in this image is shining in their own way. 'Ah, sheep being sheep. Ah, shepherd being shepherd. Got it. Nailed it. Tree being tree...'

A: Got it

S: Nailed it.

A: The tree is kind of doin the same thing the shepherd is. 'I got it, I got this shade.'

S: And then that tree's like, 'I'm over here too! I'm being a tree!'

A: 'Just in case!'

We laugh

S: Yes. Um, peace. Mmmhmm. This is August energy. This isn't harvest just yet, this is the prime. This is the prime of summer. We are... yes. I have been around many a golden field with wild life, and by wild life I mean livestock.

A: Livestock.

S: Livestock.

A: So not wild boars and...

S: No, not wild boars or wild heifers roaming Kansas. That's not a thing. No!

A: Arguable.

We laugh

S: Fair. I place myself even though I am definitely not a farmer or a herder, nope, not my life (burps) excuse me. That being said I see myself in this location. I want to drink this wine literally in this field. Looking over these sheep. Saying 'hi' to our friend but, um, you know, staying far away from the sheep.

I laugh

S: Nature adjacent.

A: So what I really just loved about the image itself was the simplicity of the moment, the time and place when this scene happened. And I love, one of the things I really loved about it there's a nondescriptness. I mean at the end of the day what this image is, is a kid with a bunch of sheep in a golden field with two trees. Where can you find that on the planet?

S: Uh, a lot of places.

A: Right, so then when you bring in the knowledge of where it is, it is still, a kid, with a bunch of sheep, doing his job, and two trees.

S: Mmmhmm.

A: So the image makes me feel just less foreign. Or it makes the location feel less foreign. With the simplicity of the image, the shepherd, I mean, that's the title of it, without him...

S: Yeah, we've left the shepherd out of conversation.

A: Yeah, but he's always been there.

S: He's literally the title. We talked about the trees we talked about the sheep we didn't really mention the shepherd too too much.

A: Except that he's 'got it'

S: He's nailing it. And I have now found "we three sheep".

We laugh and Steve points to a cluster of sheep over on the left.

S: Just in line.

A: Yeah. And a butt.

S: Sheep, sheep, butt.

We laugh

S: I like this one too.

A: That sheep butt?

S: It's just like full on 'what's that? Oh it's a sheep butt'

A: That's a sheep butt.

S: That's a butt!

A: Right in the center.

S: Right in the center.

We laugh

A: Ah, you're welcome.

S: It's just so charming. Okay, talk to me more about the green that you never saw. That you clearly placed on your canvas. Were you not thinking that 'oh this shadow...'

A: Definitely wasn't, never crossed my mind. Not once.

S: It just needs to be this color.

A: Yeah.

S: Like, this is the color there's no choice, this has to be the color so this is what I'm being informed to put on the canvas so this is what I'm putting on the canvas.

A: Yeah. It never crossed my mind...

S: That it was green.

A: No. I mean I consciously chose the green I was using.

S: Right. But you didn't say green is the shadow.

A: No. No.

S: Funny!

A: What I recollect from the moment of painting that is from my vantage point I'm seeing deeper into the tree than I can looking to the left of it. And that's it, that was it. So the fact that that actually is shadow never occurred to me.

S: You were just like 'these leaves are green'

A: Yep, and has to be like that, so I can see deeper into the tree. Why can I see deeper into the tree? Because I'm not being freaking blinded by the light.

S: I also just have to make it known that I become a giddy school boy at just, like, small texture, bloop bloop bloop bloop bloops.


S: This could definitely be the wine. I just watched these sheep move. Munch munch munch.

A: Maybe those two sheep were really over here in back.

S: It's cool to have pointed out some things that you didn't see. I didn't think I was going to do that.

A: Yeah, well, you know, when you're so up close you only see the detail, and you don't see the painting as a whole. Or vice versa, you only see it as whole and you don't see any of the detail. But because I'm so intimately acquainted I don't have the freshness to see it for the first time.

S: Seeing the same thing with new eyes.

A: Like the multitude of sheep butts.

We laugh

S: Yeah, you don't just get one sheep butt, you get like a good hand-full of sheep butts. Oh my gosh. I want to go run through this field. Not towards these sheep though, that would be a bad choice, Steve. That could be a bad idea, but I do want to run around this hillside.

A: It looks very non-dangerous.

S: I mean, the sheep would probably be like, 'what the hell are you doing?'

A: It doesn't look super rocky, like, limited places to trip and fall.

S: Yeah.

A: It's a frolicking field.

S: Well, somebody should definitely buy this.

I laugh

A: I'm just kind of obsessed with my sheep. I freakin' love my sheep. On that note, cheers!

S: Cheers! It's empty...

What were we drinking?

I belong to an online wine club, Naked Wines, my wine selection comes from there, and I have not been disappointed with their service, nor their wine selection. This month we were drinking 2020 Angel’s Reserve F. Stephen Miller Pinot Noir.


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