Old friends, old wine

We all have our favorite wine and friendship quotes: I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines. (Oliver Goldsmith) And: Friendship, like wine, improves with time. (Anonymous).

And there’s the kingpin, Mr. Shakespeare himself: What though youth gave love and roses, age still leaves us friends and wine.

The thing about wine and friendship is that both do improve with age. Actually, if I think about it, friendships seem to grow richer and warmer under the influence of a good wine shared with a pal – no matter the age of the wine or the friend.

But the real question of the hour on this friendship-wine issue is this: Do you share your good wines with friends, I mean really share?

Last year someone gave me an incredible, $185 cabernet, which begged the question: Which friend gets to share this bottle? Which begged a second question: Really – do I have any friends worth pouring a $50 glass of wine?

What would Robert Mondavi do? One pal suggested it be shared with only one could appreciate it (he meant him). But what if the best wine connoisseur you know also happens to be a mammoth jerk? Do you break out that $185 cabernet for your dearest friend in the world who drinks nothing but Bud Light, or do you decant that cab with a so-so acquaintance who particularly knows their wine?

It’s a decision, but I believe that sharing a bottle of wine is just one friendly thing to do with good vino, but sharing one’s wine cellar list is the true testament to unwaivering friendship faith.

Over the years, I’ve built a list of wines I think are special. To be special and make the list, they must be affordable, very drinkable and easily found.

Those wines that make my list often have nostalgia attached to them. Like dining in New Orleans at a bistro in the 1980s and having the bartend simply open – without asking – an Estancia Cabernet. It was heaven and it’s made the list for life. (Any year will do.)

Or the 2007 Melini Chiantic Classico found at an old-school Italian restaurant in north Denver (Patsy’s), where the antipasti is as surprising and sensuous as this quiet little Italian treasure of a wine.

The point is that one’s list is intimate, a sort of wine diary, if you will. Some hold their lists close to their chests. I like to pull mine out and stealthily add to it, like putting money in the bank – and then turn my friends on to the discoveries I’ve made – with the hope they’ll do the same.

So here’s a few selections from my own personal ongoing Friendshp & Wine List. These are wines I keep on hand and encourage my friends to try. These are the wines I take to a dinner parties (and serve at dinner parties) and wrap bows around for gifts – because it’s so enjoyable to watch others’ enjoyment of same.

Share your list. If you’re feeling reckless, create a blog or a Facebook Shared Wine Cellar Fan Page – put it out there for the world to share because, as the saying goes: The time to make friends is before you need them. (Proverb)

From Cathie Beck’s “Personal Faves Wine List”

2007 Melini Chianti Classico
2007 Las Rocas Garnacha
Estancia Cabernet or Pinot Noir, any year
Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir, any year
2008 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir
2007 Juan Gil Jumilla
2005 Muga Reserva Unfiltered Rioja

Word o’ the Week

Ice Wine – With warm days upon us, many have asked about something called “ice wine.” Not so well known in the U.S. (as it is in Europe), ice wine is German for Eiswein, which is wine made from frozen grapes. It actually snows on the grapes and freezes them and, by law, they must be crushed while still frozen.

The ATF division of the U.S. government does not allow the use of the German word, Eiswein, so it is labeled Ice Wine in English in the U.S.

One Winning Wine Tasting

Savor the Wine and Save a Child’s Sight

On May 16, 2010, the International Eye Foundation will host a fundraiser, Savor the Wine and Save a Child’s Sight, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the home of Helen Clark Atkeson and Stan Raine.

Enjoy fine wines and help save the sight of a child in a developing country at the same time. All proceeds will benefit the International Eye Foundation, which has worked since 1961 to prevent blindness and restore sight to the poorest and most in need worldwide.

Reservations are $50 per person ($40 per person is tax deductible) and are to be made in advance. For more information, or to make reservations call Calvin Baerveldt at 240-290-0263 ext 118. or visit our web site at www.iefusa.org.

Coming May 28

Making the Wine Transition

Summertime Wine Fests

There’s a slew of summer wine festivals and vineyards just waiting for you to show up and sample. Many involve foods, crafts and wine-centric activities. Some are low to no-cost. And some vineyards even invite student vinters to intern at their wineries.

May 28 brings a list of well researched and thoroughly discussed wineries happy to hose you for an hour or a week or longer. We’ll have the skinny on the summer wine fun on May 28.

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