Yesterday I wrote about our first 'milestones' in wine. There are big and small ones. First, you pay more for a bottle of wine than you would pay for a whole meal. Then you start going to wineries and discover there are wines that never make it stores or restaurants, but can only be found at the source. Then you start searching for wine stores that carry the wines you love. The first time you bring your own wine to a restaurant.
The first 'mixed' case. The first not mixed case. The first time you come home from a wine tasting trip with multiple cases. The point at which you discover that your living room is full of wine because you have no room to store anything properly. The panic when you realize you're not storing anything properly - and these are fairly expensive wines. The first wine storage fridge you buy - which is just large enough for you to clear out your living room. In my case, there were around 12 cases of wine in my living room. Thanks to some serendipitous meetings and shopping, I was able to purchase a nice Vinotemp unit that gave me back my living room.
JD and I are collectors who buy to drink. I don't shop at auctions, and don't really want to buy anything that has to be on its side for more than 5 years, because life is short and I want to drink my wines now! But sometimes, when you're in the moment - in a tasting room or at an event - you fall in love with whatever is in your glass, and all of a sudden, there's another several cases in the living room. And those moments add up, especially if you're tasting with friends.
JD and I have been lucky. We've met a few individuals who really know a lot about wine, and are willing to teach us. Over the last 20 years that we've visited our favorite little place, Cambria, we've received education, guidance, and friendship from Dennis and Kelley and Joni at the Cambria Wine Shop. We can't actually get out of there without buying at least a case of mixed treasures. Dennis, especially, has been generous with his time and his deep well of knowledge. And Kelley, the Wine Demon, is just too much fun and too willing to share his stories of the days he worked for Bonny Doon.
But there are other memorable moments. I remember vividly a birthday dinner at the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, when we had a gift certificate for dinner, so we splurged on the wine. Just from reading the brief description on the wine list, we ordered a 2001 L'Aventure 'Optimus.' It was extraordinary. Every mouthful was deep and dark chocolate and cherries and firm tannins. And $58 at the restaurant.
When we got home, I went online and searched for it at the winery. It was $50! I was sad - I was pretty sure I wasn't going to have that wonderful wine again. The mail arrived with a catalog from the Woodland Hills Wine Company. Unbelievably, they had the 2001 Optimus on sale for $36.99. I bought 6 bottles, and put them on their sides, and have opened one per year. This wine just gets more complex and interesting. Just brought one to a party last month; you should have seen peoples' eyes pop when they tasted it.
Because the best part of wine is sharing it. Wine is social. From ancient times - maybe 8,000 years ago - when humans realized that fermented grape juice altered their conscious state, wine has been a part of social interaction. Whether it's used to purify water (kills bacteria!), or drunk with meals to aid digestion (enzymes!), or used in religious rituals for sanctification and blessings, wine is part of our lives. It adds depth and enjoyment to meals, enhancing the foods that delight us.
And so we keep buying, and we buy more than we drink. A few weeks ago, JD and I poured wine at a fundraiser for ALS, and the turnout was small. The wine distributor who donated the wines gave all of us a case to take home. We were already overflowing our storage (wine cooler - 200 bottles, rack in dining room - supposed to be 48 bottles, but doubled up, the small cooler in the kitchen, and at least a case that was in the living room). We opened a couple of bottles at a meeting, and sent everyone home with a bottle. I took 4 bottles to work and gave them to a co-worker who loves white wines. She was thrilled, and I had disposed of 4 bottles I wasn't going to drink. Fastest case I've ever gone thru!
And we really can't buy any more wine until we drink some of what we've got. I think I'll be doing some entertaining! Soon.