Monday, April 19, 2010
"Ripe, rich and round, with lots of spicy, earth-scented black cherry and berry flavors, hinting deliciously at chocolate on the smooth finish.”
This weekend was a weekend of wine, as a friend and I went to Temecula, California for wine tastings. And it was gorgeous – warm weather, sunny skies, and the vineyard-covered hills – all within a five-hour drive of Las Vegas. (Add some Billy Joel & Beatles for the drive and it is a completely perfect weekend.)
I wasn’t much of a wine drinker until I met my husband – I have to admit that I used to wrinkle my nose every time I took a sip, but over time I learned to appreciate, and then to enjoy, a nice glass of wine.
Growing up in the Bible Belt, I was never around alcohol very much. My family weren’t major drinkers, but they’d have the occasional beer or glass of wine. I learned that alcohol wasn’t a very big deal. Even my high school & college friends weren’t major partiers – we were theatre people who didn’t need alcohol to be silly.
My first memory of wine was at my Dad’s relatives’ house, when I was offered a small glass of wine at large Thanksgiving dinner. I was probably ten or eleven, and I felt so special! Grown-up! Worldly & cultured! It smelled interesting but didn’t taste very good. It stood by my plate during the whole meal, looking haughty, important, and sophisticated.
Not long after I married my husband, I joined my Dad in Valdivia, Chile where he was sent on business. While he was in meetings I explored the streets, finding pottery studios, coffee shops, and interesting little museums where I was forced to use my Spanish when a nice woman offered to open a closed gallery just for me.
I also found a wonderful wood-paneled wine shop, and I wandered around inside after deciding to bring home a bottle for my husband. I had no idea what to get – a red? A white? Dry? Sweet? I didn’t really know what my husband liked – he always bought the wine. I had almost decided to choose one based on the prettiness of the label when the nice salesman offered to give me a tasting. At his bar by the tallest wall of wine I copied his swirling and sniffing and finally took a taste. “It should taste like vanilla,” he said in his thick accent as he watched me sip. The wine in my mouth, I looked at him in astonishment - I could actually taste the vanilla. Never before had I been able to taste the oak or cedar or tobacco or berry or whatever else I was supposed to taste. But this one went down smooth – deep and red with a very slight hint of vanilla. I bought two bottles.
Since that fun experience in South America, my palate has matured. This weekend I was proud to announce several flavors I detected in the wine. But I have to admit I still get a little giddy when I do so. It’s nice to feel grown up.