I was talking with a friend recently who asked me to name my most memorable wine experience. Where to begin? For a wine lover, so many experiences are framed by what’s in the glass. It’s hard to pick just one. But this was a fun way to reflect on the many good times I’ve shared with friends and family…and a bottle of vino.
There was the 2008 Cline Cashmere, a Rhone-style blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre ($15). Kate and I brought a couple of bottles with us to Cozumel on a trip with my brother and sister-in-law. I don’t know if it was the great company, the friendly service, or just the total feeling of ease that comes with being on vacation, but a decent GSM with a plate of lasagna never tasted so good.
Then there was the 2007 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel ($18). It was a family gathering, and we sat at the chef’s table at Seasons 52 in Orlando. I spotted the wine on their list not long after it had been rated #10 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2009. We don’t get hung up on ratings, but we do appreciate a quality Zinfandel at a great price. Considering the diverse menu with lots of fresh ingredients at Seasons 52, as well as the inevitable sharing of dishes that occurs when family sits down to dinner, Zinfandel is a smart choice. The wine delivered beautifully and helped create a lasting memory.
The first time out with my dad on our new boat makes the list. Kate made a lasagna that we ate while sipping a hearty 2005 Pedestal Merlot (by famed consultant Michel Rolland) while anchored off Ft. Belvoir in the Potomac River. There’s nothing like great food and wine on the water.
I could go on – Maybe the 2002 Quintessa Cabernet ($120) we had at The Melting Pot in Washington, DC, which was a fantastic substitution for the 1997 Jordan that we originally ordered, only to be informed that the cork had completely crumbled into the wine. Or the 2006 Waugh Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah ($50) that blew us away at Ocean Prime in Orlando while we dove into an eclectic mix of stunning appetizers.
Funny enough, I think my most memorable experience comes from a relatively inexpensive bottle of Merlot – I believe it was a 1998 Clos du Bois Alexander Valley ($22). Kate and I were still in college, and we celebrated her 22nd birthday at Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort, Walt Disney World. We certainly did not have the money for an expensive bottle, but the Merlot was a perfect backdrop to a memorable evening, with roses delivered to the table and fireworks just beyond our waterside window.
As we approach the end of 2010, take a few minutes to think of your most memorable wine experience (and feel free to share here). You might arrive at an answer that could fill a photo album.