Producer: Shabo, Odessa Oblast
Source: Guy Grimsley, Chris’s friend
This blogging thing is pretty addictive – having somewhere to expand my thoughts into prose, explaining and editing ideas, making them clearer while I’m writing. It’s proving to be a very interesting exercise…
This is supposed to be a wine blog, cataloguing our adventures finding and drinking these fine international wines, but occasionally I’ve had a week when the story of obtaining the wine simply comes down to the extraordinary generosity of friends, and it was drunk during a wonderful, peaceful evening at home. No drama, and nothing really to write about.
I have always wanted to get married in a church. It’s one of very few aspects of our wedding that was largely non-negotiable. That and trumpets. But Chris had equally strong feelings against this – in fact, I remember him once joking that we could never get married because I would insist on a church wedding – so we have both had to find a compromise. I couldn’t imagine beginning married life without a blessing, just as he didn’t want to make one of the most important promises of his life knowing that he didn’t believe the words he was saying.
We talked through a lot of options, and looked into having a legal civil ceremony and then a blessing in a church, or perhaps getting married in the church but not having a full CofE ceremony. In the end, Reverend Tony Forrest in Droxford has been fantastic and allowed us to make subtle adjustments to the wording of the ceremony so that the end result is both legal and satisfactory to everyone, although I know that Chris has made much bigger compromises than I have. (He’s kind of fantastic!)
All of these discussions and plans and compromises have made me think about why this was so important to me. Why is this show necessary? Is it just to please family members, or is it for me?
Because I know that my insistence has surprised some of my friends. I don’t really talk about being religious as I don’t like the label – I struggle to hear it dispassionately and instead hear judgement, whether imaginary or real.
But whether I baulk at the religious label or not, I do believe in God. I am a scientific, logic driven, academic kinkster…but I do have a religious faith. I’m Christian by upbringing so I have faith in a Christian God but I don’t exactly lead a religious life. I don’t go to church, I don’t believe all of the Christian dogma, I can’t explain the problem of evil, and I think that religion is used to justify some truly horrendous actions, but I do have faith.
It comforts me. When I’m furious and upset and screaming into the void, it comforts me to know that someone is listening. Someone is absorbing my pain and taking it away. That blackness isn’t thrown back at me or rotting inside; it’s been removed. I have someone to blame for cruelties that I cannot explain. I have someone visceral and with a name that I can curse and be irrationally angry towards when I am hurting. This is no impotent rage; this is directed and pointed, and ultimately cleansing.
And equally I like that when I jump around in excitement and joy, thanking the heavens for whatever brilliant thing has just happened, someone is hearing my thanks and is warmed by my gratitude. I have had such a happy, wonderful life and am optimistic that I will have a happy, wonderful future; I am thankful for so much, and I like that I can say thank you to someone who is listening.
But the most important aspect of my faith is that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I won’t be subjected to anything that I couldn’t handle. My God knows me; they know how strong I am and what I am capable of. They know how far I can bend and they know when I will break, so won’t push me that hard. Oh, I’ll be pushed all the way to that breaking point, but never beyond it. As is necessary with faith, I have no proof of this but the very existence of this belief is enough to stop me breaking. Someone knows I am enough – strong enough or smart enough or brave enough or whatever it is that is needed, I am enough. And so I am enough.
My faith is ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe that I’m never alone so I don’t feel lonely; I believe that my hurt will be washed away so I have never drowned in hopeless despair; I believe that I won’t be asked to act beyond my ability so there is nothing I cannot do. I have faith in myself more than in God, but my faith in God is the bedrock that stops my self-belief from shaking.
This is why some sort of religious blessing was so important to me when planning our wedding. I wanted to make sure that my marriage was built on that same bedrock that has kept me safe all these years, and I am so grateful to Chris for the compromise that he has made so this can happen. Curtis family weddings have always been in churches, but this isn’t a choice I’ve made to please them – Chris’s wishes will trump theirs more often than not now anyway. This is mine.
We drank the Ukrainian wine for this post on the evening before a wonderful weekend in Droxford with my family and Chris’s family. There was a lot of wedding talk and planning, and I was so pleased that Linda and Richard could see the house and the church where it’s all going to happen.
In the grand scheme of a whole marriage, the wedding is just one day. But it is an important day – it’s the one that starts it all off, that sets the tone for the rest of our lives together, and as such it has to be right. Celebrations and happiness with our family and friends. Promises that we mean and will endeavour to keep for the rest of our lives. And, for me at least, the chance to thank my God for the wonderful man who happened to chance into my life and for the new family I’ll be joining and for all of the other miraculous joys that make me so happy.
Oh, and trumpets.
From the International Wine Challenge website:
Clean, well-balanced wine with interesting floral and appley notes, and vanilla oak integration.
Additional information on the rather unusual grape, from the ‘Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity‘:
Telti-Kuruk is a unique autochthonous grape variety first planted in the village of Shabo, Odessa Oblast, during the Turkish reign. Telti-Kuruk grows almost exclusively in the Shabo region. The climate of the Black Sea Lowland has a beneficial effect on the development of viticulture and winemaking. The grape is used to produce Shabo vintage white table wine, champagne wine materials and juices. The total area of the grape plantings of this unique variety is about 70 hectares.
This is properly yummy! And yes, there really is no better word for it. It kicks off with fairly heavy oak on both the nose and palate, but it’s also realllllllly smooth and not at all overpowering. It stood up really well to the moussaka we ate it with – in fact it was a perfect accompaniment – and each mouthful was capped off with a beautifully long, creamy finish.
I’d go as far as to say that it almost tastes of a really good pannacotta – not too sweet, by any means, but full of a real richness, with something just fruity enough running right through it to balance that out. One of my favourites so far, not least because it introduced us to such an unusual, interesting grape.
We’ve drunk some really good white wines with this challenge, and this was a really good white wine! Golden yellow in colour with an oakiness to its smell and taste. It really tasted like an expensive white – glossy, thick and smooth; no sharpness, no harshness; it was delicious!
The first flavour was a bit weak and watery, but then BOOM! Such a swollen, delicious aftertaste; a creamy and soft flavour that kept getting better. It also really complimented the rich, creamy moussaka that Chris had cooked, providing a soft oaky flavour that cut through the meatiness wonderfully.
8/10, strongly recommend