In a restaurant, I am that awkward person who asks the waiter for the cork as he tries to take it from the table with the empty bottle of wine.
After sharing a bottle of wine on the Left Bank of the Seine River with old friends and new friends, I am the one who slips the cork into my jeans pocket or handbag.
I admit it: I am the cork thief.
I just can’t bare the thought of not having a memento of a remarkable wine, or even of an unremarkable wine that was shared in good company. Indeed, each cork in my collection represents a memory—a memory of a person, a place, a thought, an intention, even a dream.
There are the corks I display in a vase on the mantelpiece, and they represent older wine memories. There are also the corks that are scattered among my valued possessions—among my pearl earrings and the china plates that belonged to my grandmother—and they represent the more unprocessed, raw wine memories, evoking vivid images of loving connections made and of loves lost.
There is the cork from a bottle of 2005 Château Sénéjac. There is the cork from a bottle of 2003 Vintage Dom Pérignon. And there are three corks that read “Muga”. Even though I have drunk a bottle of Muga Reserva on three occasions, I would not say I have drunk the same wine three times, or even twice, since wine even from the same barrel can be perceived differently due to the influence of the food it was paired with and who it was drunk with, among other factors. Similarly, each cork holds a unique piece of information about the past, based on whether the wine was a gift from a relative who visited the winery, whether it was opened with a pop under the Eiffel Tower, whether it was chilled in the Seine River by lowering it into the icy waters, and whether it was paired with Sydney rock oysters.
Thus, it appears to me that a collection of corks can be so much more than a decorative piece. In fact, my collection is in a way a time capsule, since it holds information about my past selves: the self that found the courage to travel alone to the Barossa Valley in the winter; the self that sipped rosé in Paris’s Luxembourg Garden while forging a new romantic connection; and the self that opened a bottle of 2000 Château de Sarenceau as a means to mourn a loss and start over again.
I love my collection of corks, for it connects my past selves with my current self and ignites wonder for the wine adventures my future selves will have. And so I keep collecting corks to add to my collection, because after all, life is more in the moments we collect corks than in those moments we admire our cork collection.[metaslider id=273]