It was the moment that I knew that I had finally turned into a full-on wine geek. It wasn’t the moment that I thought such an epiphany would strike. Was it in the middle of one of my many wine classes? No. Was it in the middle of the Bordeaux en primeur tasting? No. Was it when I purchased the Wine Grape Varietal Table (like the elemental chart but with wine grapes instead)? No, but I have to admit that I was pretty excited.
I realized that I had turned into a full on wine geek the morning that I was selecting the wine for one of my best friend’s going-away dinner that evening—I was responsible for food and beverage. And this wasn’t any going away party. This was a permanent going away party where we would be eating amidst the packed boxes that would begin their journey the next day. My friend and her family were making the permanent move to Connecticut from California (crazy, I know but she got an amazing job offer and they were moving much closer to their families, not to mention lower taxes and a bigger house for a lot less money).
I started panicking when I realized that all of my great wine was locked far away in storage (and that I needed a small army to help me retrieve it) and had no time to field reinforcements through a visit to a wine shop that day. Don’t take this as meaning I didn’t have any good wine at home; we do stock more than Two Buck Chuck but most of it was unknown to me thanks to my recent French wine kick. But, still, I was panicked. Everyone at dinner loved wine. And this was my friend who had been my friend for over a decade, had been there for me through some tough times and had held my hand when my dream job quickly turned into a nightmare (something akin to a Nightmare on Elm Street). I had to pick some good wine.
I continued to peruse the possible selections. Given the conditions of the dining environment that evening, I figured that we would likely be getting some sort of Asian take-out. Ugh. Not because I dislike Asian take-out (actually, I love it) but Asian food is not a natural partner for wine. I knew that I needed to take some whites but the selection was limited. Damn, why doesn’t my husband drink more white wine with me? He only drinks red so the wine stock tends to be heavy on red, light on white.
After standing there for what seemed like an eternity, I selected the two white wines that would best accompany Asian food, sparkling wine and Riesling. For some reason, sparkling wine has an affinity for most foods (and the sparkling reds from Italy are even nice accompaniments to meat). The sparkling wine was a Foppiano non-vintage sparkling wine (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) from Napa, which I had recently received as a party gift and was unknown to me. The Riesling was a 2008 Trimback Riesling from Alsace, which is vinified dry, and Riesling is usually a brilliant accompaniment to almost any style of Asian food. Just in case we elected to get something besides Asian, I also took a Cote Nuit Village Pinot Noir from Burgundy.
My friend suggested Asian for dinner from a cute little Laotian place close to her house. I agonized over the menu, looking for dishes to accompany the wine I selected. I made some thoughtful suggestions and hoped for the best.
As it turned out, the wine was good, not great. We drank it from fine plastic glasses. We toasted my friend’s departure. We ate and drank and talked. We realized that this was to be the last dinner that we could easily throw together (as the next would involve travel). It was the end of an era. I was sad as I looked around at the packed boxes. I teared up as I said my good-byes. But I was excited for my friend and as I was walked to my car, I started thinking about the wine I would bring to her eventual house-warming in Connecticut.
It was then that I knew I had turned into a true wine geek.