Now that I am fairly well settled in to my apartment, I wanted to reconnect with friends I haven't seen in awhile and show off my new place. I have always loved having friends and family gathered around my table, but what to do when I no longer have a table? I worried that there wouldn't be space to entertain 1 guest let alone 8 or 9. I decided on a wine tasting with food to follow, figuring that plying my guests with good wine would encourage them to ignore the lack of space. I searched online (thank you Google) for how to host a wine tasting and found page after page of ideas, most of them urging me to pick the type of wine tasting I wanted to host. Did I want to sample wines from a certain region? certain year? certain varietal? I really enjoy wine but am by no means a wine aficionado and the only thing I was really certain of after my research, was that it was all very confusing. One thing they were all very clear about was the need to have 2 bottles of each wine...one for tasting, one for drinking. I could get behind that, so I headed off to the local wine store, hoping inspiration and clarity would magically appear. As I gazed at the bottles and bottles lining the shelves, helpfully segregated by country then by varietal, still waiting for that aha! moment, I realized that what I was really hoping for was a shelf labeled "try these 5 wines at your wine tasting event". Sadly there was no such shelf. I wandered thru the wines picking up one bottle to try and match it to another bottle, then find a third, only to have a completely different wine catch my eye, at which point I put the other bottles back and picked up the new bottle, only to start the whole thing over again. Clearly putting together a thoughtful, clever, awe-inspiring wine tasting was not my forte. Then, standing in the row of Australian wines, a shiraz in one hand and a pinot noir in the other, my aha! moment struck. I was way overthinking this whole thing. It was a party for heaven's sake, not a graded event. I put all the bottles back, pushed my cart to the first row, took a deep breath and decided to choose wines I wanted to try.
First I found a Cline Ancient Vine Mourvedre from Sonoma. Some good friends had toured their winery last year and had great things to say about it, so that seemed a good choice. Then I located a Concannon Petit Sirah from Livermore Valley, CA. I had never heard of the vineyard but I like petit sirah, so 2 bottles went into the cart. I spied The Barrel Blend from Hill Family Estate in Napa and suddenly could barely catch my breath. I was transported back to my brother's deck where we shared many a bottle of wine including this one. I almost cried when I picked it up and added it to the basket. I credit my brother with my interest in wine. He really was an expert and since he passed away last December I rarely drink wine without thinking of him. I took another deep breath and continued. I picked a Grundlach Mountain Cuvee for no other reason than I liked the name, and a Santa Ema Carmenere, because all the other wines were from California and I felt the need to go international.
I am happy to report that the wines were all delightful, the food was plentiful and tasty, and the lack of a dining table didn't seem to bother anyone in the least. In fact, as we gathered around my kitchen island, tasting then drinking wine, I had another aha! moment. It isn't the thoughtfully selected wine, the carefully planned menu or the huge table you gather around that makes an evening. It is the friends, the conversation, the laughter we all shared. It's the telling of new stories and the retelling of old favorites. It's knowing that the people in my living room watching college football highlights are some of the best people I know and that I am thankful for each and every one of them. I could have served bean dip, Fritos and Coke and everyone would have had just as good a time. But I am really glad I went with the wine.