Anyone who knows me, knows I like to kid about how Sutter Home White Zin was the wine that started this great love affair. But it’s not really true. No, White Zin–along with just about every other wine I indiscriminately placed in the cart– was just that wine I had late night rendezvous with, the one that looked ‘good enough’ when my beer goggles were fully in place. The cheap, available vino that made me feel temporarily good (if I plugged my nose) and absolutely awful the next day. It was just something that tasted better than beer and liquor, to be honest.
It wasn’t until I was well into undergrad, maybe twenty years old, that it was less about getting loaded with my friends (a very brief phase thankfully) and more about appreciating wine itself. And as I got more into cooking, wine pairing naturally became a great hobby. I met a few wines with great personalities, but seldom went out with the same one twice. I was a player. I wanted to know them all! It seemed silly to grab the same wine when there were thousands out there. I still feel this way. I had never taken a formal wine class, but I would pore over the labels, note which I liked more than others and flip through a Speculator if I was at a magazine rack. It was just so much information. Navigation was daunting. How does one ever really get into this?
Then one evening, in our teeny apartment for four (I literally slept in the closetless family room for a year and a half…for $1k a month), we crammed about twenty people inside to listen to our friend discuss Spanish wines. He worked a Sherry-Lehmann, a well respected shop in the city. I could scarcely follow his instruction, but I could tell I was way more interested than the other twenty-somethings. As they slugged down their garnachas and albarinos, I struggled to fight the urge to grab my notebook. I sipped slowly, so as to really understand the nuances he described. And for the first time, it honestly made a little bit of sense. The subregions, soils and styles were just a lot to take in all at once. The wines became a blur, and the night took on the jovial, antique hue of a lifelong memory.
It was this night that I was introduced to Lopez de Heredia–the whites and reds, various vintages and vineyards. I had absolutely no clue what I was sipping. It was unlike anything I had ever had. I was not familiar with aged wines, let alone one that was simply dripping with terroir and history. I was enamored… It was the first wine that proved my one night stand theory for wine wrong, for it became true love for life. I have enjoyed Lopez many times since then. Those wines may be the reason I fell so hard for this career in the first place. Wine is so mysterious, so enchanting and so utterly dynamic in its geographical versatility, personality and overall capacity for prose.
So what is the point, anyhow? The topic of true love from a one night stand is very relevant for me as I board this plane to New York City for the weekend to celebrate two dear friends as they embark on that fabulously challenging journey called Marriage. I lived with one, I worked with the other. I introduced the two one hazy pub crawl kind of a night. The next day, he was making coffee in my kitchen. I smiled politely, went back to bed and proceeded to text my friend: wtf? Several months later, they shacked up. About a year later, they were engaged. And now, I get to witness one of the more curious miracles ever: how the one night stand became a vow for lifelong love.
This weekend is particularly special to me, as I return to the City that parallel miracles have happened for me. It was the scene of my first love: New York City itself. I had never stepped foot on NYC until I moved there. It was the place that brought me to my first sip of Lopez, still my favorite wines in the world. It was here that I had my first date with Jonathan… two years ago, hand in hand and all smiles as we bopped around the Village (I know what you’re thinking…and no, don’t draw TOO many parallels. Dirty minds. Shame…). It was here I shrugged so much of my girlish naivety, shed some tears but ultimately crafted my adult sensibilities and armour.
I am returning to a place so familiar. A place that is so inextricably linked to my person. I am returning to me for a few days. The place where I got to know her best. And luckily, a place that let me take the important parts of her with me when I left.