Column for Feb 8th.
Last Thanksgiving, my partner and I visited our parents in southern
Unfortunately, I didn't plan for dinner the day after Thanksgiving. We were going to one of my father's favorite Italian restaurants and I didn't have a bottle on hand – an embarrassing predicament for any resident wine expert.
Fortunately, I was sent out on an errand to purchase a lock to replace the one we were going to cut off of King Tut's tomb (AKA my mother-in-law’s 10x30 foot storage locker, the inside of which no one had seen for a quarter of a century and which you really don't want to get me started on because of the boxes of paper napkins stacked to the ceiling, not to mention 25 years of dust, sofas, Pittsburgh phone books and God only knows what else.).
Luckily, there was a high-end bottle shop next to the hardware store. After perusing their very nice selection for an hour or two, I picked a bottle of 2001 Rodney Strong Symmetry. I've always liked Rodney Strong's entry level Cabernet; it’s a pretty solid wine for the price. But I didn't really know anything about the Symmetry. It was just a lucky pick.
I'll skip over the whole deal with the rude waiter, but at least he opened the bottle and gave me a taste before pouring for everyone. That first taste told me that this wine was a cut above average, and as it developed in the glass, I began to realize that I was having the proverbial "it" wine experience.
What is the "it" wine experience? To your ordinary wino, it's that first taste of Thunderbird that convinces them that they could be happy spending the rest of their life living in an alley begging for enough spare change to buy their next bottle. To your extra-ordinary wine snob, on the other hand, it's usually that one glass or bottle that blew their mind and really turned them on to fine wine.
This bottle definitely blew my mind. Unfortunately, there's really no way to describe it. I've drunk a lot of wine in my life, but nothing like this. The Cabernets and
The Symmetry absolutely lived up to it's name, not only with incredibly dense dark flavors of blackberry, black cherry, chocolate, mocha and spices, but also with a wonderful balance, silky smooth tannins and a finish that seemed to go on for minutes. Every sip set off a cascade of stunning revelations.
It was a religious experience, and I could swear I felt the rapture quickly approaching.
Sadly, a bottle of wine split between five people only gives you one short glass to savor, and all too soon the experience was over. I was left like a penniless heroin addict, craving more, more, more. I went into withdrawal almost immediately, and was pale, shivering and incoherent by the end of dinner.
I went back to rob the shop where I got the bottle, but discovered that there was no more. I shot up the place in a rage and left. Then I stole a car and raced back to
Like an oenophilic adrenalin junkie, I’m now on a perpetual search for another “it” wine experience, spending hundreds of dollars in just the past couple of weeks on various
I thought having an “it” wine experience would be a good thing, but all it’s done is raise my taste beyond the reach of my checkbook. I think the only cure is to “recalibrate” my palate, and the only way to do that is with a bottle of Thunderbird. So, if you see me in an alley somewhere, be kind and toss me some change.