1. Attack, Middle, and Finish
Each sip of wine tells a story. There is the attack, the beginning of the sip, that introduces the characteristics of the wine to my pallet. Next, there is the middle that contains the real body of the wine. Finally, the finish resolves in my mouth, ending the tale. The attack, middle and finish parallel the beginning middle and end of a story arc. And, like a good wine, a good story lingers with me after it's gone.
2. Better with Age
On our honeymoon, my husband and I indulged in a bottle Château Gruaud-Larose. It was so good that we bought another bottle to take home and let age. We couldn't do that with a lower quality wine. At least, it wouldn't turn out very well. Quality books are like vintage wine: they withstand time to be read again in the future. We call them classics.
3. The Cheap Stuff
Drink too much Three-Buck Chuck, and my taste buds lower their standards. "This stuffs excellent," I think. When I get around to drinking something decent, I realize I'd forgotten what good wine tastes like. When I finally open that Château Gruaud-Larose my pallet will revel in what it's been missing. Similarly, after reading a slew of airport novels, my brain adjusts to that style. It can even start to affect my writing. Thus it is important to read (and drink) widely and varied.
4. The Book Hangover
Sometimes I read late into the night, binging on the urgency of character-driven plots. "Just one more chapter," I tell myself. "Then I'll go to bed." After a night like that, I wake in the morning groggy and cotton-mouthed. I force myself to leave the covers. Un-showered, I trudge in late to work and vow to never do that again. The same goes with too much cheap wine. This is why I try not to drink (or binge read) on a school night.
5. You Can't Judge a Wine by its Label
The title and cover of a book can't guarantee what sort of story lies inside. While the cover gives some inkling of the genre and the title tells me something about the story, I can't really know if I like it without reading. Likewise, a wine label might tell what grapes were used or the region where they grew, but I don't know if I like the wine before I take that first sip. I can't be sure about the book before I read the first chapter.