My wine philosophy is simple; it places wine at the center of the celebration of life. Sometimes wine enhances experiences and sometimes wine is the experience. I fondly remember my first carafe of house Chianti in Rome years ago. No, I don’t remember the name or the particular qualities. In the orange glow of a dimly-lit piazza in ancient Trastevere, I remember enjoying a long conversation late into the evening with my wife and two good friends. Sipping the wine and fighting jet lag, we spoke quietly-- adjusting our volume only for the occasional passing moped as it buzzed through the square.
Similarly, I will never forget that wine that got us singing along with an Andrea Bocelli recording as we prepared fresh pasta in our vacation rental cabin overlooking St. Helena and miles of Napa Valley vines. Or did I forget? Was it a 1998 Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon or a 1999 Beaulieu Tapestry? Either way, I’m pretty sure it was red, and I’m quite certain it was part of a memorable evening.
Recalling another wine memory, all I can see is the top of the label on a bottle of Rombauer Chardonnay peaking at me above the rim of the ice bucket. And all I can taste is the endless, smooth, buttery finish coating my tongue and seducing me for the very first time. I quickly learned that it is a characteristic so typical of Carneros Chardonnay, and I learned it that night. (Carneros: the hilly region adjoining Napa and Sonoma). The other details of that evening apparently weren't that important to stash away in my memory bank.
I try to take notes on all the wines I taste. Reviewing these notes brings a lot of memories to life and although the vivid recollection is occasionally the wine itself, it is more often the experience around the wine. Either way, there is wine involved and the moments are celebrated!