Saturday, December 18, 2004

A Sandwich to a Banquet

About four years ago, before I became an apprentice wine-geek, I went to a dinner party at a neighbor's house and being a thoughtful guest I brought a small offering of wine. It takes a real man to admit that it was a bottle of Blackstone Merlot. But the story gets better. We arrive, I offer the wine, and the host, a very friendly local doctor, nicely accepts the gift and turns the bottle around and advises me that he knows of the winemaker and how he is quite good. I feel pretty good about how bright I am in picking such a great wine find. I had been introduced to this wine one weekend in 1996 aboard a boat I had chartered in Miami to attend the Columbus Day Regatta. The wine tasted great with grilled steaks and zucchini anchored in Biscayne Bay. (I will not bore you with the rest of the details on the Columbus Day Regatta, but you can find great pictures of this XXX rated event on the Internet! In hindsight, I probably should have stayed on my boat and not swum over to the large party boat anchored 100 yards away! But that is another story for another time.)

Like I said, I am feeling pretty suave now about my wine choice and I hadn't even got to the good part of the story of the weekend that I had "discovered" this rare gem. The host then motions for me to follow him to the living room. As we stand there, he pushes a small button on the wall and a four-foot by four-foot section of the living room floor begins to open up on hinges. I peer down into a metal circular staircase. My confused brain quickly figures out that my host has a wine cellar. Not just any wine cellar, but a "major" wine cellar. "Why don't we pick out some wines for dinner." (I guess the Blackstone was going to sit on the kitchen counter tonight. It's probably still there!)

The doctor is quite pleased to show me around the room stuffed with First Growth classics, names, at the time, I could not comprehend. He said that he was overloaded with such great (and expensive) wines, that he was unsure of what to do with them and that he had been collecting for some ten or fifteen years. How and when do you serve that 20 year-old Petrus? He picked out a few wines and we ascended back up the staircase to the kitchen. (I wish I could tell you that we tasted some of the good stuff, but my recollection is a little fuzzy and I think we only sampled some second or third labels.) As I turned back to look into the living room, the hatch quietly closed into the floor.

The rest of the dinner (and wine) was great and we all had a wonderful time.

But, my New Years resolution this year is to get myself invited back to re-visit that cellar, and this time the Blackstone stays at home!


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