An epic Greek poem deserves an epic Greek wine. Like a sparkling deep orange wine the color of the sky when the sun’s just fallen below the horizon. Right? Right.
Not familiar with orange wines? Or Greek wines, for that matter? Well. You are in for a treat. This lil urn-like bottle holds a fuzzy, fizzy semi-sparkling orange from Ioannina that’s deep and full and tastes of baking spices; uncapping it is like discovering some secret fall-themed Olympian mead—maybe Demeter's, goddess of the harvest and the very first fall-loving basic bitch. Except this is anything but basic. It's nearly rust-colored, one of the darkest oranges I've seen thanks to a lil red grape action in there (most oranges are just white grapes that have been left with their skins on for a bit of time). But don't let the color fool you; it's not heavy at all. This wine is a lot in terms of flavor, but unlike many orange natural wines, it’s not funky. It’s deliciously clean in fact, much like Emily Wilson’s translation of Homer’s famous epic.
You might be wondering why anyone would want to re-read The Odyssey. Chances are you read it in high school, part of the required English lit curriculum of classic books. Maybe you liked it; maybe you thought it was unnecessarily boring to read something so old; maybe you Sparknoted the whole thing and barely remember it. In any case, this newest translation, the first ever by a woman, is more intuitive, intelligently wrought, and the words more thoughtfully chosen (perhaps because it’s by a woman) than whatever you read back then. Consider her telling, in the New York Times magazine, of how to translate the very first adjective in the poem, landing on “complicated” to describe the hero—making him not the glorified hero that prior (male) translators did, nor a passive actor in the midst of turbulence that he simply had to weather, but a not entirely good man with his own flaws. This refusal to capitulate to heroic tropes rings true throughout the poem, making it radically different from any prior translation, made for people who love considering the power in the meaning of singular words, the implications of a sentence, and the history in ancient texts.
Neither of these should be taken lightly, but neither are too heavy handed or highfallutin to enjoy.