Some dear friends of mine, a couple of my favorite people in the world, came over last night for dinner and to watch basketball, as well as to give Sonja and I the long overdue opportunity to celebrate their engagement with them. One was a former student of mine, the other his fiancee, and together we ate and watched the school where I had him in class win a state championship in basketball. We shared a meal and talked late into the night, and I found I couldn’t stop smiling at this wonderful couple and the lives that lay before them. Both of them are hyper-intelligent, and perhaps far more important, both of them have terrific hearts beating inside their chests, hearts that love one another and seek to do good things in the world. They are people I’m proud to know, and I’m so happy that they found one another. For me, it was a very special evening, sharing time with them as we did.
The conversation was rich and full of reminiscence. The steaks my wife cooked in the cast-iron skillet were nearly perfect, and I managed not to screw up the sautéed vegetables too badly. Our guests brought dessert which, incidentally, came from the same place that Sonja and I got our wedding cake. And all of this provided the perfect opportunity for wine to once again be what I want it to be: the compliment to a far greater experience.
We started with a flute of brut cava and some spicy cheese, and then for dinner paired two reds with our steak. The first was a pricey bottle of Margaux which I decanted for over and hour, and which continued to decant while we ate and imbibed. It was excellent. The second was a bottle of 14 Hands Cab Sauv, still very young, from the Columbia Valley.
I rarely do anything that counts as brilliant, but I did do something very right last night. Upon emptying the decanter into our glasses and opening the young Cab, I poured it straight into the decanter and gave it a vigorous swirl. I think sometimes we forget to decant wines that either didn’t cost much money or which we do not hold high expectations of in general. This is a mistake. Every wine should be treated like a first growth before you serve it; if you treat her right, you give her the best opportunity to shine. Decanted, if ever so briefly and in a used decanter even, this 14 Hands Cab Sauv, which is well made and which I have enjoyed on numerous occasions in the past really did an admirable job, in spite of being so very different from the Margaux we’d opened. We continued to sip it after dinner ended and into the evening as we watched basketball, first our alma mater if I may call it that, and then the Duke v. UNC game, which ended the way I wanted it to (and not the way my friends did).
The 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon is consistent from year to year in my experience. Take the time to decant it, and pair it with terrific company, good conversation, and a nice meal, and it gets even better. Raising a glass of it to two wonderful people about to embark upon the best experience a person can possibly have, blending their lives together like fine wine, brought me tremendous joy.