If you’ve been reading for a while you know I enjoy a “touch of the grape”. It’s a relationship that goes back quite a ways.
This is where it started. I was an 18 year old (it was “legal” then) who enjoyed some Boones Farm Apple Wine whenever I had enough money to go out and buy a bottle. Granted, a bottle of wine lasted me a lot longer back then than it does now! Apple was followed up soon by Strawberry Hill… and life was excellent.
There was a popular wine called Mateus Rose when I was in high school. I seem to remember downing many’s a bottle. I also seem to remember seeing many table lamps made with Mateus bottle bottoms. And then, I have a picture of an old, dusty Mateus bottle with drippy candle wax cascading down it’s sides. I remember my parents buying this when they had friends over — well, for the ladies.
I took French in college and the Professor was a woman from France, where they conveniently speak a lot of French and they drink a considerable amount of wine. My next foray into the world of the grape was RED wine. I’m forgetting now exactly what flavors I preferred. I do remember that when she became a citizen, the class threw her a party, complete with Boursin cheese & crackers and wine — probably a burgundy or something. I was learning new wine flavors all the time.
Soon I moved to white wines, with Chablis being my favorite for many years. I realized about 25 years ago that RED wines gave me headaches. I’m thinking it’s from the sulphites, but don’t quote me. When I drank white wine, I didn’t get the awful, splitting head pains so I pretty much stopped drinking red and would ONLY drink white. I am currently seeking to expand my pleasure in the realm of the vineyard and am thinking of trying reds “every now and then” just to see if that phase has ended. Currently I enjoy a glass of either a Chardonnay or a Pinot a few nights a week.
I also enjoy going to the source! I mean, really… once you’ve seen one “winery tour” you pretty much get the idea of “how we makea da wine”. It’s the tasting that everyone wants to get to. And I’ve done my share of tasting. The first winery I visited was the Brotherhood Winery in NY state. I can still remember it — well, not quite as vividly as I imagine I do…but it was over 35 years ago! It was Washington’s Birthday weekend. Now for those of you who may be younger than 35, in the olden days, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln BOTH had celebrated birthdays in the very short month of February. This made February something to look forward to. We didn’t have MLK Day — which is just a few weeks after Christmas break so you’re not really needing any break. But by February, things were looking pretty bleak and — well — we didn’t have to wait until the 20-somethingth to have a day off. Nosiree! We had 2 February holidays — one on the 12th and one on the 22nd. (Yes, we didn’t have the internet, or smartphones, but WE had 2 school holidays in February and LIFE WAS GOOD!) Anyway, I was in college and this one l-o-n-g February weekend (Washington’s Birthday must have fallen on a Friday or a Monday that year) my mother, my grandmother and I headed north on the NYS Thruway and aimed the car for the winery. Brotherhood has this really tasty Holiday wine and I wanted to see where it came from. So I dragged my mom and my Nanny on an outing. (Truthfully, I don’t remember much dragging.) Well, the place is OLD and made of stone and it was FEBRUARY in NY State and it was COLD. Good for wine, not so good for garls like us. Fortunately, the wine tasting helped take the chill off. I do remember leaving there feeling pretty tipsy, and, I think my fellow adventurers were feeling quite MELLOW themselves!
When I travelled for my job, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a trip to San Francisco where a fellow oenophile (or did she just like to drink?) and I decided to take a day trip (by bus) and do some wine tasting. After all, we were close enough, it was the right thing to do. That was another tipsy day and if I could find the god-awful photos I’d post them. Fortunately (for both me and you) I have no clue which big, dark box they’re in.
Mom and I also visited Asheville, NC a few years back and we did the whole Biltmore Estates thing — and it would have been rude to skip the winery, so we behaved like perfect ladies and obliged them. That was fun!
And at Smithville, NJ, there’s a kind of “in house” winery that has tastings (Renault). They have 2 locations and I always try to hit both. (Because I’m usually there during the summer months, I pretend I need to get inside where it’s air-conditioned. While I’m there, I continue to be a polite lady and taste some of their lovely wines.) Their Cranberry wine and the Almond are both unique and tasty. It’s a nice break when you’re chachki shopping.
These days, I’m reduced to buying your basic “cheap” wine. It’s good — I mean, it’s not vinegar… but it’s not as intoxicatingly pleasant as the good stuff. My current ‘brand’ du jour is Winking Owl from Aldi. Yep. $2.89 a bottle. But I can still relive my glory days by pouring it into a Biltmore glass!
Now, you’re probably not going to believe this, but in doing all this writing, I haven’t had a single touch of the grape…. and I’m thinking that’s just a gol-darn shame. So I know there’s a bottle of Chardonnay chillin on the door of the fridge and I’m thinking the corkscrew is calling me to it. I’m really looking forward to seeing the Owl Winking at me!