Tonight we opened a 2001 Sunstone Syrah but I think we might’ve waited a bit too long to drink it. It just seemed a little one dimensional. I guess we shouldn’t have waited so long. This isn’t the first time we’ve made this mistake. The one that really broke my heart was a bottle of 1970 Chateau Lafite Rothschild that I gave to my husband as a gift (for one of those ‘significant birthdays’) years ago. I cannot be certain, but I was pretty sure that his eyes teared up when he saw the year on the label. We’d waited for the perfect occasion to open the bottle. Everything needed to be right: the glasses, decanter, the season and the friends who’ll enjoy the bottle with us. The perfect occasion presented itself; dear friends of ours who’d recently moved to the Virgin Islands were visiting for the summer. They are passionate, interesting and fabulously alive people and we love spending time with them every chance we get. We don’t drink wine with them very often, now that they’ve moved out of the country, and so this occasion was made even more special. After much anticipation and preparation, my husband Jason handed the wine opener to Bob, biology professor and wine aficionado, and asked him to do the honors. After the cork came out, I knew from the disappointed look on Bob’s face that the wine had turned. We were left with a bottle of dashed hopes and vinegar.

After that heartbreak bottle, my husband and I decided that we’d try very hard to avoid letting a beautiful bottle of wine turn to salad dressing sitting in wine storage. These days, we make it a point to open a good bottle with most of our dinners. It makes every dinner seem like a celebration, and is also a way to dress up a simple meal at home. Hamburgers, baked beans and a simple green salad get infinitely more interesting when paired with a glass of Rusack Pinot, Andrew Murray Roasted Slope Syrah or the Kunin’s Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre blend called Pape Star. Also, wine is a wonderful reminder of your travels, as you open bottles acquired on your successful wine tasting adventures. My husband and I went wine tasting in France years ago; we think of our trip whenever we open a bottle from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region. It is wonderful to reminisce together over a glass of wine; it binds us and deepens our love. It is instant romance, with a baguette and a spot of brie!

We’d been storing a special bottle for a friend of ours for many years. He kept saying “I want to share this bottle with you,” but then he moved to Brazil for a while, got married and years slipped on by. In light of our heartbreak bottle of 1970 vinegar, we prodded Mike until he decided that it was time to open the bottle. He and his wife came to Santa Barbara and we all went to the farmer’s market where we bought yellow and red beets, new potatoes, red grapes, herbed goat cheese, olive tapenade, a loaf of bread and fresh salad greens from Tom Shepherd. We stopped on the way home to pick up a tri-tip. Then we had all the makings of a fabulous lunch. During our casual appetizer course of grapes, bread, tapenade, and cheeses, we set the table for our lunch and Jason started cooking the meat. We opened the 1997 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon to give it adequate time to breathe. We roasted the beets and made a salad. After nearly an hour we sat down in the sunshine at a table in the backyard and reminisced about what our lives were like when the grapes were harvested a decade ago. At that time, Mike wasn’t married and had not even met the woman who would later become his wife. Jason and I weren’t married then either. Over the eight years we stored Mike’s wine, Jason and I moved it to three different zip codes. We found ourselves working day and night during the dot-com boom. We traveled to Belize, Guatemala, and Europe. During this time, Mike (also caught up in the dot-com craziness) met and dated Sandra here in the States, then she went back home to Brazil. Mike pined for her and took Portuguese lessons. He then went to Brazil and proposed. They married and then moved back to America. It is breathtaking to think just how much our lives have changed over the years. The wine was the catalyst for us to sit down, really connect, and talk about life and love and travel and food. No heartbreak in this bottle, only sunlight and celebration!

1997 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon

1997 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon - Michael Wilsker