What are Your Earliest Memories of Drinking Wine?

glasswine. Broken.Continued from Part 1 of The Making of a Wine Lover

When we finally got up to leave, we realized that the restaurant was empty. We said good night to the owner and he slapped Andrew on the back as if he were choking on a bread stick.

That was the first of many happy evenings there and we drank that Brunello for a year. A pilot light had been ignited inside me; over time it would grow into the flames of full-blown passion.

Today, I joke that I started drinking seriously when I met Andrew. However, my earliest experiences with wine should have driven me into the frothy embrace of beer forever.

Growing up on the East Coast in the 1970s and 1980s, I’d be given one undrinkable glass of wine to toast the New Year, and another at Easter—usually from the same box. During the rest of the year, my Scottish family knocked back beer and whisky.

My teen drinking began and ended at the same high school dance, behind the utility shed where all the illicit activities took place: I chugged half a bottle of syrupy sparkling wine.

Not only did it taste wretched, but it also made me spend the next day in the vise grip of a searing, sugar-withdrawal headache. After this, there were family celebrations.

At a cousin’s wedding, I drank their homemade wine: Tanya and Ronny’s True Love Forever Chablis. I hoped the marriage would age better than the wine.

In the years that have passed since we discovered that Brunello, the taste of wine has helped me store many memories. I remember one particular bottle because of the weather.

Andrew and I were snug inside a rented cabin as rain battered the roof, dripped down the chimney and hissed on the fire. Thunder rolled overhead as the windows rattled. The wind whipped across the lake in angry gusts, as if hurling itself at our cabin.

The smoky aromas of that Rhône Valley Syrah wrapped around my head and filled my body. The storm outside made the calm pleasure of the wine deeper, more sensual. As long as my glass was full, I wanted it to rage for years.

Even when I’m drinking alone, my mind will still clink with past toasts, glasses drained, fond farewells. Some wines will always taste like a lost argument or a long embrace. ChairTableWine1

I think many of us have a secret cellar in our minds where we collect our empty bottles filled with memories.

As I developed a taste for wine, I wanted to find words to describe the way it lightened and lifted me.

I had long admired the way Colette, Dorothy Parker and M.F.K. Fisher wrote about food and drink. They fused mind and body with their narratives, and I reread my favorite passages until I was drunk on their prose.

Read Part 3 of The Making of a Wine Lover …





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