It was Easter 1984 and the family sat down for our traditional spread of honey-baked ham and Mom’s oh-so-succulent turkey that had been slow-roasting since before we left for sunrise service. Dad had just delivered the blessing when my sister followed up with, “And God bless Chris and Chuck’s engagement.”
I screamed, Mom started crying, Dad let out a howl and Chris uncovered her gorgeous engagement ring, while my future brother-in-law, Chuck, sat there with a Cheshire grin on his face.
My family were not major wine drinkers at the time, but when we did imbibe, it was usually along the lines of Riunite Lambrusco. When everyone came down off of the euphoria cloud, Dad noted we didn’t have a bottle of wine to celebrate. Shock, gasp, appalling! At that moment I ran upstairs and pulled from under my bed a very dusty bottle of wine I brought home from my year living in Australia. Sadly, I can’t even tell you what it was…. I came bouncing back downstairs, set the bottle on the table and Dad looked at me and said, “I thought you were saving that for something special?”
There was a moment of silence and then everyone burst out laughing. The wine was opened and toasts were made, while my sister glowed.
Today, I’m not a sommelier or wine expert, and I don’t play one on TV. I just love drinking wine. It was several years after my sister’s wedding when a good friend invited me to one of Dornan’s winter wine dinners. It was a vertical tasting of cabernets sauvignon and I had no appreciation what I was tasting.
At one point, Bob Dornan, master of ceremonies and a man who I love and adore, as does much of Jackson Hole, said, “Can you taste the chocolate in this wine?” I thought the man had lost his mind – chocolate in wine? I was such a rookie.
Years later, much more versed in wine and the enhancing flavors, I opened a bottle of wine, took a sip and stopped. I took another sip and, I’ll be, chocolate. Dark, rich, luscious chocolate, masquerading as a bottle of wine. It was pure heaven.
For those of who want to learn about wine, it’s simple. Go to your local wine store and ask for recommendations. Or, throw a brown-bag barbecue with your friends. Everyone brings a red and white bottle, wrapped in a paper bag. Your guests taste each wine and then vote. You’ll discover some fabulous and very affordable wines this way. Just keep tasting until you find something you like and keep notes. The Evernote and Vivino apps are my best friends when it comes to keeping a list of wines I want to remember.
Pick up Wine For Dummies and learn the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris. And for you history buffs, Wine & War and the Women of Wine are two fabulous books that will keep you turning the pages.
Sip, breathe, eat and enjoy. It’s the best way to learn about wine, plain and simple.
Chris and Chuck are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary today. Like a good wine, they have gotten better and better with time and, they have become major Malbec connoisseurs – love swapping recommendations with them!
So happy anniversary you two, I raise my favorite glass sparkling wine, J Brut, to my best friend and her incredible husband. You remind us that love, friendship and most importantly, communication are paramount to making a marriage work and last.