In Vino Veritas

These two images constitute 100% of our now sparse wine collection.  This depleted state is a far cry from 10 years ago when we usually had 20-30 bottles at any time. That number increased just before the holidays.

Our fascination with wine began in 1978 when we decided to see what the fuss was about and try a dry wine. At the time, we lived in Adams-Morgan in DC, and there were a few decent liquor stores close by with good wine selections. An elderly couple who owned Comet Liquors (if I recall the store’s name correctly) guided us on our wine journey, suggesting vintages and grapes and providing background info.

Kentmere 400, Minolta Maxxum 700si, 100mm f2.8, DF96, Epson V600, Epson Scan 2

Soon we joined Les Amis Du Vin, a local wine club, and enjoyed tasting events and members’ buying discounts. My most memorable wine purchase  happened in 1983. It was for three bottles of Grand Vin du Chateau Latour, which were on sale (either the 1978 or 1979 vintage). Whichever vintage it was, the price was lowered because it was not considered on par with prior years. The regular cost for these bottles was 25.00 each (at the time, a lot of money for a bottle of wine–equal to about 76.00 in 2023). On sale, with our discount, we got three bottles for 30.00 from Calvert-Woodley Liquors. The last time I checked, an equivalent bottle of Latour can cost as much as 600.00.

Over the years, we visited wine towns and regions in France and California. St. Emilion was lovely, as were Beaune and Dijon. I had one of the worst colds ever in Bordeaux, where I liberally sipped Grand Marnier to soothe my throat while recuperating at the Hotel Frantel. Napa was okay; Sonoma was love at first sight.

In 1988, at a private wine tasting in Napa, we bought a case of 1983 Pinot Noir—Chateau Bouchaine Los Carneros, Winery Lake Vineyard—one of the best Pinots I have had.  As you can see, we still have a bottle. I doubt it is drinkable, but it is a warming reminder of our wine days of yore.

I can’t honestly say why we have so little wine now. Wine used to be an essential part of dinner. These days, I don’t miss it. In fact, I rarely think about wine unless I pass by this rack. That being said, we opened a few bottles this past holiday season, but they lasted weeks instead of hours. Still, the enjoyment was undiminished.

So, why the near-empty racks? Well, I chalk it up to a few  things.  First, I partake less because I noticed that a glass of wine has a much greater effect today. Next, there is the nagging reminder that Chateau Latour is now only for people with yachts.  Finally, I have difficulty knowing what is good these days. Bouchaine no longer tastes the same, and pouring over Wine SpectatorWine & Spiritsor Wine Advocate is more a chore than it is enjoyable. And even if I were to browse a wine publication, taste inflation is rampant–it seems every wine these days is a 95+. I don’t think so…

However, I am not stuck in the past. I’m willing to spend for a good bottle to go with a rack of lamb. The problem is I don’t know whose opinion to trust. And I refuse to pay for another bottle of wine that I can’t choke down. I’m willing to spring for a great Pinot Noir, but which one?

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