Among my wife’s friends and most of the people I have met here in Chicago, I am known as the wine guy. (I know it is a cliché but if I had a $1 for every time someone asked me any variation of the question “Have you had this wine?” or “Do you like this wine?” my wife and I would eat out more often.) Needless to say, people like coming to our house because of our good food, great conversations and they know we have good wine to serve. And if the people at our place have an interest in wine, inevitably a conversation grows.
We Have So Much in Common
A well-made wine is capable of so much. I think interesting wines often start discussions that boring bottles could never inspire. Captivating wines can bring a dynamic of commonality to simple cheese and wine get-togethers that can make the evening much more memorable than a fancy four-course sit down dinner party..
Wine is like almost anything else that will bring about discussion whether it be cars, art, movies or food. Consider a group of guys sitting on a patio having a couple of beers. They won’t talk about the brand new VW Jetta that’s parked out front, but if a 1963 black-on-black MGB in great condition pulls up and parks, the guys are likely to start a conversation with the owner which will lead to a discussion about their favorite automobiles and great cars they have owned. Soon – and inevitably – additional strangers will join the conversation because of a simple commonality.
Another Glass? Of Course
My wife had a couple of her friends over last week for some wine and desert. I opened a bottle of the 2009 Girard Napa Valley petite sirah which retails for less than $30 and is a really well made wine. Some of the fruit comes from 100-year old vines and the grapes are hand-sorted before going into stainless steel tanks for fermentation. It is a wine with ample new French oak, good acidity and plenty of fruit-forward flavors. It is also inky dark in color.
Both of my wife’s friends enjoyed the wine enough to comment and ask questions about the producer and varietal. This wine was essentially responsible for a conversation that started with our bottle of wine from Napa Valley and meandered to one person’s weekend in California wine country and then to great vacations that we have all taken. This good bottle of petite sirah elicited a familiarity that would not have occurred had we started talking about the cold Chicago spring weather.