I often don’t recall how long I’ve known somebody until my memory is jarred. Last night, Sonja and I again had friends over for raclette, and my mind was jarred in the most wonderful of ways. I had set the table and pulled out wine from the cellar — I’ll get to that in a moment — and was in the process of helping Sonja put the vegetables and meats and cheese on trays when our friends Paul and Becky arrived with their daughter. Not long after, Chad and Anna arrived, of course with their two sons in tow. I had prepared a small table for the three kids who were big enough to be on their own, complete with little kid silverware and plastic plates. Then I plated a meal for them of chicken nuggets, bread, and green beans, and we all sat down to dine, the two youngest, still infants, at the big table in on fashion or another.
Of course, the toddlers didn’t last long at their miniature table, and ended up joining us. I probably should have seen that coming — who wants to be left out, after all? But there was a moment, looking around the room at my friends and the five children that I was reminded of the length of these friendships, because I could easily recall the time before these children and spending similar time with these same great people. What life was prior to kids I don’t really remember — it has far more meaning to me now that I have them, but I do know that I knew and spent considerable time with these friends prior to the advent of our little ones. As I watched our children scramble around the room, eat their food, talk to us, and then strike out for the basement to play with toys and watch a movie, it stuck me just how much time had passed. And having been reminded of how long I’ve known the terrific people that Sonja and I were so fortunate to be breaking bread with last night, I was glad I’d chosen a wine that was worthy of such great folk.
Paul helped as I worked the aging cork out of the bottle of 1995 Barnett Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon — a vintage that predates even our friendship. I grabbed a filter-funnel to catch the bits of cork I’d chipped off with my unskilled hand, and eventually got the magnum distributed into two decanters and took them to the table. From the moment I began to pour the exceedingly dark, almost black wine, the fragrant bouquet had me excited — it smelled like mountain fruits, and like the passage of time. On the palate, I found that the tannins had formed chains so long they could have wrapped around the room, smoothing the wine out beautifully. The rich mountain fruit, tamed by time, was supported by an elegant structure in a wine that seemed to me to be perfectly in balance. A refined hint of leather, blackberries, black currants, and the mildest suggestion of something herbaceous made this a classic Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon that had, for twenty-three years, been patiently waiting for a night like this.
The conversation was part reminiscence, part looking toward the future, as together our friends communed around our table, making new little plates of raclette every so often and sharing this magnificent wine. At one point Titus got up from his small table and toddled over to me, hugging my bent knee. I bent over to hug him back, and asked if he’d like to smell my wine. Of course, and as always, he wanted to do so. I gave it a swirl, pitching the dark liquid up against the bowl of the glass, and held it down for him. He placed his nose upon the rim of my glass and inhaled audibly, smiled up at me, then went back to his seat to finish his chicken nuggets. The conversation continued.
Cheers to the people that make us happy,