Wine & Friends

Wine is meant to be shared. I watched a famous wine movie several years ago in a Mattituck theater surrounded by a large contingent from the North Fork Wine Industry. The groans heard when Merlot was bashed were only outdone by the groans heard when the main character drank a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc in a fast-food joint from a Styrofoam cup. For most in the audience, the disturbing part of the scene was the cup and location, but for me it was drinking such a wine alone.

For a long time, the most exciting things about wine were the discovery of a new wine and the place it came from. But after many years and many wines, there are fewer wines that give me pause. Now my excitement comes from sharing newly-discovered wines and regions with friends.

Every few years, I head out to Lake Tahoe, California with my wife and son to visit friends and to ski. I used to bring wine with me, but with air travel what it is today, I now ship a case ahead of time. This year, I brought eight bottles from my cellar collection, which included a 1989 Château de la Gardine Châteuneuf-du-Pape, a 1992 Whitehall Lane Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2000 Sassoalloro (Biondi Santi), a 2001 Domaine Bonserine Côte-Rôtie La Sarrasine and a Maison Champy 2005 Savigny-les-Beaune. I filled out the remainder of the case with selections from the wine store I consult for and also shipped from there. Legally, wine must be shipped from a licensed wine retailer, so if you are looking to ship your own wine, you have two choices: Take your chances and don’t label it as alcohol or take the wine to a friendly wine store and ask if they can ship it for you. You can insure the wine for its value and if it is damaged in transit, at least you will be compensated for the loss. The store may require you to pay an additional fee on top of the shipping cost, which is between $26 and $36 for a case to most locations in the continental US.

I don’t often ask other wine professionals what wine to bring or open. I just open what fits the meal, weather and mood of the evening. And while all the reds we opened were spectacular, the surprises were the two whites. A 2006 William Fèvre Chablis Fourchaume was enjoyed after we arrived and before venturing out for dinner. The wine was full of great citrus and apple aromas with a mouth-filling palate that was beautifully balanced. The other white was a single vineyard 2007 Riesling from Bernhard Eifel. The best thing about sharing this wine was when I realized one of my hosts was not a fan of Riesling. Yet due to the dish it was paired with, Chicken Francese, he found it delightful and went looking for a second glass (a surprise to his wife who later informed me of his general dislike for all things Riesling). It is such a delight to see someone drink a wine that’s out of his or her comfort zone and make a discovery that the right Riesling (or any other wine) paired with the right meal and situation can be a revelation. So don’t hoard your wine—share it as often as possible. It makes the wine that much more valuable.