The King is Dead

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How I Became a "Wino."

I remember my first foray into wine. I followed in the footsteps of past, present, and future young writers and artists, drinking red wine because, well, it was cool. And like so many of the others, I knew nothing about what I was drinking. Sure I had heard some of the names before; I also went through a make-up craze, and there are so many red nail polishes and lipsticks bearing the names of red grapes. But names are never enough, and so I drank not so good and bad wine, drank it even though I really didn’t like it. And so I stopped drinking it before I got to know it. But, as I have learned, wine matures to its peak of flavor; a lesson that also applied to me.

During graduate school, my drinking slowly decreased to near nothingness. There just wasn’t any money, so we opted for other pleasures; at this time Sean and I began to cultivate our sweet tooth as we explored chocolate. Chocolate was cheaper, even the good stuff, and it was something we could do. I started making chocolate treats at this time, a hobby that I still enjoy. And the best thing: it is a love that pairs well with wine, so a definitive win there. With chocolate our main focus, we just didn’t need alcohol. However, that would quickly change.

When I finished graduate school and we moved back to where our families lived, we found ourselves spending more time with our families, especially for weekend meals. Well, in steps Sean’s grandmother. At dinner, she always had a glass of wine, a habit that had been on the increase due to some of her friends. On her Friday night outings with her friends, she had drinking buddies, but that was not so with family. Sean’s grandfather rarely drank – and drank hard liquor; Sean’s brother was similar (he had a taste for expensive whiskey). Sean’s mom would try to drink with her mother, but she had developed the typical “wine headache” from reds – what Sean’s grandmother drank a lot of. So that left Sean and I. Well, we let her take the lead, and she proved to have some useful insight. Before long, we found what we liked.

And by accident, we found a cheap treasure of a wine, Becker Vineyard’s Cabernet Sauvignon Iconoclast. Well, we got hooked. This wine was one we could drink anytime, both Sean and I. It had just enough fruit to excite my picky, highly sensitive palate; it played into Sean’s taste for dark, robust flavors; and it was a nice dry wine, which we both enjoyed. We were started down a long road after that – Highway 290 to be exact. A short time later, my father – who I generally disagree with when it comes to wine – suggested a visit up to Fredericksburg. When he said that, antique shops and old ladies came to mind. Boy was I wrong; when we got there, I found a playground for foodies, boutique shoppers, and winos. And so, we took our first trip to Becker.

At Becker, we were introduced to more wines, wonderful wines. Before long, Sean developed a love for Becker’s Claret – a Regency favorite. I feel in love with Malbec; it is my favorite varietal, and I have come to appreciate the depth of it through the array of Malbec’s coming from Argentina. This love was furthered by the ease of acquiring these two gems; HEB carried them both at reasonable prices. A new habit was born, and thanks to a little know how, we had a new habit. And of course, our local grocery store (for non-Texas readers, HEB is a local, large grocery change) fed our habit within our budget.

Now several years later, we are winos. We visit the same stretch of Highway 290 between Fredericksburg and Johnson City (named for the President and his birthplace) several times a year. We are wine club members at three wineries. As always, Becker got us started, but we followed a year later with Pedernales Cellars and William Chris Winery. We go and have picnics at the wineries, sipping wine and listening to the music – that is when the weather allows. We visit for special events. And boy do they have a lot; as I am writing, I am missing Port and Pairings, an event where delicious food gets paired with the wineries’ ports. Next month will be the Wine Lover’s Trail, with special events, chocolate, and live music waiting to greet us. It will also be pick-up time again – we will have to pick up the first wine club shipment of 2012. Now that I am old enough and wise enough, I can actually make smart choices and thoroughly enjoy myself.

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