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I have always been a whiskey drinker. The array of flavors - from the smooth rye blend of Bulleit Bourbon to the peatiest, smokiest scotches that taste like somebody squeezed planet Earth in a vice grip and bottled the juice that came out - are always where the cow puts the patty. It sufficiently compliments my dinners, my writing, my showers, and anything else that I have an open hand to hold a glass. However, recently I took a trip to Napa and had my eyes open to the world of wine. It would be false to say that I hadn’t taken a fixing to wine previously, but I had never submerged myself into the culture that comes from the fermented grapes. My eyes were open particularly after a five course dinner I indulged upon that included a wine tasting for every plate.

Each dish and each wine had a unique taste of their own, but when combined created something completely new. The salty flavor from the chilies cooked into the octopus combined with the smokiness of the grill the cephalopod recently came off of, plus a zest of lime juice to boot, was delicious by itself. However, when taking a bite followed by a sip of Catarratto-Inzolia - a light Sicilian wine with faint spices - took the meal beyond a three-dimensional experience. The combination of wine and savory or sweet dishes brought mealtime to a whole new level I didn’t know possible.

That evening in Napa lead me to believe that complementary items should not be restricted to the dinner table. Our universe, and life as we know it, was created by the combination of different elements. This principle could easily be applied to the things we create and the final product that comes from them. Next time you start that painting, burn some sage throughout the room. The combination of the smell and the energy put forth through the brush may create something you had not anticipated. On your planned outing to take photographs of your surroundings, put some tunes on your headphones that you normally would not listen to. If the outcome leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you could always change the ingredients and start anew.

With a little experimentation, we can all learn to be culinary experts of the world around us.