Last week I had a few run-ins with some excellent drinking partners.
You know the type — when you meet the conversation is always as good as the wine. The topics are as juicy as the pomegranates on your goat cheese salad. I don’t always have a lot of time, but there is always time, for a bottle of wine, with you.
What makes a good drinking partner? Well, compatibility comes in many forms. There are the people we work with, and we often need an out-of-office release. Sometimes it’s the people we ski with, and it’s nice to mingle without the icicles dripping from our noses. Lovers and friends and neighbors and family.
Wine can put the capital “L” in lover. Wine can make a smile widen as the laughter of a friend fills the kitchen and a neighbor just happens by with a chilled bottle of bubbly. I know a guy who says when his family gets together they always drink at least a case of pinot gris. I want to be part of that family.
Wine soothes the aching muscles after a long day on the trail, eases the mind after a day of fast driving (Aspen to San Francisco in 14 hours, anyone?) and is just the relaxing tonic needed after averting a near-domestic tragedy, like accidentally burning down the backyard. A winemaker friend’s nebbiolo-sangiovese blend never tasted so good as that one, the one from 1998, the one that we drank after saving the backyard from becoming blackened.
Now I have that to add to my tasting notes from the ‘99, ‘00, ‘01 and so on. Another time for those details.
And like the transmutation of emotion we all partake in at this time of the year, wine has the power to instantly transform the visual landscape of a situation. Like the scene in front of me right now, as I embed myself into the moment of composition and the yellow-pink-and-blue label of the Husch La Blanc sauvignon blanc blend becomes one with the same yellow-pink-blue of the Splenda-Equal-and-Sweet-And-Low packets, next to the yellow-spotted astrolemaria and my companion extraordinaire in her ochre yellow tribal print T-shirt and flowing hippy Thai-Alladdin pantaloons. Not to mention the rounded scorpion-kid-pose on the double-yellow-line deep in the redwood forest emulating the label art on a yoga T-shirt.
The sun streaming through the extra-large Victorian window makes its all so, as does the sunny marriage of land-salt-and-sea betwixt the sauvignon blanc and the Dungeness crab cakes. And gosh-darn-it, am I hyphen-happy today or what?
The point, really, is that happiness is most of the equation, most of the time. We are definitely good at that. From the festivals we pull off, the parties we host, to the turns we make, the miles we cover on our bikes, to the families we raise.
My family-of-friends, by the way, seems to be growing by the minute, as the magic potency of the valley water never ceases to amaze me, along with the power of the fruit of their vines er, I mean, loins. This time of year tells us key caveats about the journey we are on — from the ground we have covered, to possibly where we are heading. And among the bounty of emotica we wish to express, none comes more fitting to me as the lesson-in-presence-of-this-moment as the name of our server, Patience.
Whether you are Chris Davenport waiting for the right time to drop into that 4,000 foot long sliver of white in Chili, or Johnathon Pullis ready to pull that cork on something French from the 1960s (two would-be excellent drinking partners), Patience is the ultimate gift. To know, in this moment, that everything is working as it should, and this — also an ultimate gift — is as good as it gets. Patience was an awesome server, my companion deftly setting the mood. My camera-toting, wine-drinking and -enjoying and always-smiling companion, the muse for us all.
Wine is simply the pepper in the pot. And if that isn’t worth drinking to, what is?
Cheers! Wine reveals truth.
Drew Stofflet lives in Carbondale. Correspond with him at email@example.com.