Happy Final Weekend of 2022,
It’s that time of year when everyone is sharing their list of wines of the year. But, I find those incredible lame. Here’s why.
After 52 issues, if there’s one key that I’d like everyone reading to know, it’s this:
Wine enjoyment is nothing without context. More important than the what is the who and the where.
In other words, we often fail to consider what’s around the bottle.
So, rather than create a laundry list of bottles, here are my 4 favorite wine moments from the past year. One from each season.
Wine Moment of Spring
Date: March 2022
Location: Bazaar Meat in Chicago
Bottle: Krug Grand Cuvée
It seems like we spent most of the past two years inside. So when Emily and I went out for our first meal in the city, we decided to indulge.
We enjoyed an incredible meal at Bazaar Meats in Chicago. Course after course played so well with the wine. From Philly Cheesesteak Airbread to Wagyu cooked tableside on an ishiyaki stone, Krug held up.
The atmosphere, the meal, the service, and the company were perfect.
You’d think a meal like that couldn’t be topped.
But afterwards, we traveled up north and saw Joseph, a trio of talented sisters, who dazzled at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
A perfect night.
Wine Moment of Summer
Date: June 2022
Location: My Parent’s House
Company: Mom, Dad, Emily, my Sister, my Brother-In-Law, our kiddos
Wine: A Flight of Chardonnays
One of the best things you can do with wine is pop multiple bottles with multiple people.
A few years ago after a trip to Napa, my Dad became Mr. Chardonnay. He was quick to pull out bottles of Frisinger Family Vineyards Chardonnay—a wine that earned his moniker of “World’s Greatest Chardonnay.”
When someone identifies a wine they love, I dump fuel on the fire. And I also try to save them a little money.
So a year ago, I bought multiple cases of Copain Chardonnay for a song. Fittingly, my Dad would announce the wine to the tune of J.J. Cale’s Cocaine. “She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie…COPAIN.” Initially, I told him it was French, but we were having too much fun and too much to drink.
With all this Chardonnay love and our supplies finally running low, I brought multiple bottles for a blind tasting: Flowers, Sandhi, Evening Land and Arterberry Maresh.
My family’s ability to describe the wines shocked me.
I’m the outlier–the guy who arguably knows too much about wine. Not only were their words on point, but so were their guesses as to where the wines were from.
Had they actually been reading the newsletter?
Wine Moment of Fall
Date: October 2022
Locations: Acanto / Coda di Volpe in Chicago
Wines: Simone Capecci Ciprea Pecorino / Graci Etna Rosso
It was a lovely day in the city. We returned for a weekend away for back-to-back concerts. The music was no match for the food or the weather. We revisited some of our favorites spots and enjoyed two wonderful Italian meals. As an added bonus, we sat outside for lunch and dinner.
The day was the dream of what we expected our return to Chicago to be.
On Valentine’s Day 2020, we moved back to Chicago (true romance). We were excited to explore the city as a young family: go to museums, eat with friends, and enjoy life.
A month later, we were in lockdown. I was taking care of our daughter, and Emily was working from home. Faced with a pandemic and caring for our three-month-old daughter, we’re were truly in survival mode.
I can remember being scared to go to the grocery store, the anxiety of waiting in a line of strangers wrapped around the building.
Again, this dinner was a glimpse into the normal, the before, or something that was expected and never quite realized.
Wine Moment of Winter
Date: December 2022
Location: Petterino’s in Chicago
Company: Emily and Our Daughter
Wine: Poggio San Polo Rubio
It was our first family trip to the city for Christmas. We had just enjoyed viewing the tree at the Walnut Room of Macy’s, and then, we stopped by the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza for hot cocoa.
Between the cold and the holiday excitement, we needed sustenance.
We beat a crowd into Petterino’s. The maitre d’ quickly slotted us into the last available two top in the bar area. He disappeared through the crowd and emerged with an extra barstool. It was a lovely touch of hospitality that I had missed (and frankly, still do).
The wine wasn’t particularly memorable, but it was exactly what we needed. There’s something about red wine on an emptyish stomach at 11 a.m. It makes everything warmer and brighter.
Beyond the service, the highlight of the meal was a mom who chatted with us as her family assembled behind her in the crowd.
I’ll remember the meal most for the humanity and the kindness of others.
When cataloging my wine moments, it was easy to see why these memories stood out:
1. They deviated from the normal. These were special events where wine was present but a minor player.
2. Emily was there for it all. She is, and always will be, my rock. Our relationship started around great food and drink, and I’m glad we can keep that spark alive.
3. Family and friends are what made all my best wine moments. There were several moments that didn’t make this list, but they are still memories I’ll cherish. For example, a group of our friends, all now parents, got together and watched our kids play together and love on each other.
In short, wine, conversation, and family (given and chosen) pair well together.
I hope you ring in the New Year with people you care about and with a wine suited for the occasion.
Whether it be your favorite everyday bottle or something special, I hope it delights and amplifies the joy and warmth of the ones you love.
Happy New Year!
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