For the record, when I saw the subject of this month’s wine writing challenge, FRIENDS, I thought “this is going to be sooo easy!” Turns out, it was a lot harder than I thought. Mainly due to it not turning into a Ph.D. dissertation. I did a lot of drinking and even more culling & without further adieu:
I love to visit wine stores. When I am alone and not in a hurry, I love to visit wine stores. Why? I am the person who likes to pour [pun intended!] over all the bottles in store, like they are my friends. Each bottle or varietal or region reminds me of a time and place and I start to ponder when, how, and with whom I would open each bottle.
Because, of course, wine is something to be shared with friends. I mean, sure you could drink a bottle by yourself, but nine times out of ten it’s better when there is someone there to enjoy it with you. I will happily grant you that one time you just need to drink a bottle of wine by yourself. It’s okay, this is a safe place, where it is acceptable to drink an entire bottle by yourself at home in your pjs silently judging the world, even though technically you have no right to do so because it’s 3pm and you’re still in your pjs. No judging here!
Back to sharing wine. It is a bit of a tricky thing, in that you have to get the pairing right. No, I’m not talking about pairing it with food or the occasion, but pairing it to your friend(s) with whom you want to share it. Of course, when you are trying to plan a special event and wanting everything to be “just right” this sounds like a very unhelpful suggestion. But trust me: if you pair your wine with your friends rather than your food, at the end of a special night all you will remember is that the food was great, the wine was wonderful, and the event all the more better for it.
Don’t get me wrong, there is something magical about food and wine pairing–but honestly, I find myself to be in the minority in that regard. Most of my friends love wine, but only several will acknowledge that a good food & wine pairing can make a difference, and even fewer actually appreciate it to the degree that I do. Mostly everyone just wants to enjoy their wine, eat a bit of food, and spend time laughing and sharing time with their friends. I must admit, it is very hard to argue with this logic.
That is why rather than plan wine around my meal, I plan my meal around my wine. And by that, I mean around who will be joining me, usually my friends and family members who I like enough to consider friends (you know who you are!). I know that this seems backwards, but if I’m popping a cork on a bottle of wine, then it’s a celebration. If it’s a celebration, I want to make sure that everyone is having a good time, regardless of their wine preference. If your friends like the wine, they will like how it pairs with food. And I don’t know about you, but my friends’ wine preferences range anywhere from “only champagne” to “only red” to “only white” to “wine” to “whiskey” (c’mon, we all have that one friend), so why plan a meal that warrants a big, juicy cabernet sauvignon when you’re cooking for a friend who only likes big, buttery chardonnays or who will only drink muscato?
My next determinant for selecting a specific wine is how a friend will enjoy it. Some friends will like and drink anything. Others are exceptionally picky and will only drink [insert wine here]. Fortunately most of my friends like to be adventurous and will happily try anything once. In my humble opinion this is the most important aspect about sharing wine with someone, as one of the most tragic things in wine drinking is sharing a very special wine with someone who does not appreciate what it means to you. That is not to say that they don’t appreciate you sharing the wine with them (because they do!), but that they don’t fully appreciate the love that you have for this wine–because to them it’s about the sharing and friendship.
As such, the only time I am picky about my wine is when I am deciding with whom to share my special bottles. Special bottles need to be shared and loved and praised! But the key is finding the right person who will appreciate them the way I do. My special bottles are my babies. So I when I share them, I need to know that they will be loved as much as I love them.
For example, I have a bottle of burgundy. It is quite easily the best wine I have ever tasted, not to mention the most expensive bottle that I have ever purchased. It sits in the bottom of my wine rack collecting dust. I should drink it, I think every time I see it, but I can’t because it’s special. I can’t just open it and enjoy by myself. It wasn’t meant to be opened and enjoyed by just one person. It was meant to be celebrated. It was meant to be shared–with friends. Not just any friends, mind you, but friends who could appreciate it’s specialness.
“It’s nice” most might say. Nice? Nice? You want to scream at them–it’s not nice! It’s amazing and wonderful and bold and earthy and full of fruitiness and as a general rule I don’t really like Burgundy, but this one is special because it’s quite simply the best thing I’ve ever tasted and you said it was just nice?!?!? At that point you want to take their glass away from them and send them to wine time-out to think about what they have done while you chug what is left in the bottle. But you refrain–and in so doing, you enjoy your special bottle just a little bit less.
So, no, I cannot share my bottle of Burgundy with just anyone on the planet. I can only share it with someone who knows it’s true value to me and who will cherish it as much as I do. And that, my friends, can only be my BFF, who is the one person on this planet I know will truly appreciate the work of art that is inside this bottle as much as I do. Do I regret waiting until I can share it with her? Of course not. After all, there’s no better pairing for an expensive Burgundy collecting dust at the bottom of your wine rack like your best friend.