Sunday, March 16, 2014

We Serve No Wine Before It's...

The weather in Tuscany was mild and dry in the spring of 1997, suggesting the vintage would be one of the best years. When my husband and I arrived in the fall of 2002 on our honeymoon, we bought a few bottles of this promising year and shipped them back to Boston. The Chianti bottles were put in a box labeled “Olive Oil” and arrived unbroken, ready to be admired, but never opened.


We took the bottles with us when we moved to an apartment in Connecticut, to an apartment in New Jersey, to our first house in New Jersey and finally to our second house in New Jersey.

A decade went by and I bought my husband a few more from the same vineyard, this time picked out at a liquor store near a mall instead of in the halls of the Italian estate.  Nothing beautiful about Joe Canal's liquor store, but the familiar label connected us to a place and time we missed.

Last Sunday, to celebrate my 40th birthday, my husband made dinner and the girls and I set the table. It was still light out, thanks to the time change, and something about the late afternoon seemed quiet and calm, the opposite of the agitated anticipation I’d had leading up to the day.

“I thought we’d have the wine,” my husband said, taking a bottle out of the refrigerator where he’d placed it earlier in the day. I caught a glimpse of the label. Badia a Coltibuono. Probably the one I’d given him for our tenth anniversary from the liquor store. Special, but not, too special. Not one we’d picked out when we were twenty-eight and and didn’t have much to worry about except how much bubble wrap it took to protect a bottle of wine disguised as olive oil.

He took the cork out of the wine to let it breathe. A few minutes later, he got me a glass.

“1997?” I yelled, looking at the date on the bottle.

He poured the wine into my glass. I stared at it a while. No going back now.

I sipped.

How do I describe it?

It was uniquely still. Simply happy with what it had become. I don't think that's a perfect metaphor for my own process of aging, but perhaps I can hope.

A New York Times article from 1998, “Wine Talk; Italy's 1997 Vintage: Poised for Greatness” quotes an owner of Badia a Coltibuono, Emanuela Stucchi-Prunetti discussing the wine’s prospects when it was still all conjecture: ''It was certainly a good year,'' she said, ''but high sugars and consequent high acid levels can cause problems in the cellars.''

What would Ms. Stucchi-Prunetti say now, sipping this wine of high expectations?

Had the high sugars caused a problem? Was it somehow dusty?

For us, it didn’t matter. We’d waited. I am not even sure what for--the birth of a child, the birth of a second child, fifth wedding anniversary, tenth wedding anniversary, minor triumphs, major ones.

Was there ever the right time?

“Let’s wait," I'd have said, if my husband had asked me.

But I'm glad he didn't.



As always, thanks for reading. Join me at my day job over at The Educated Mom....

2 comments:

Lunch Box Mom said...

The weather in Tuscany was mild and dry in the spring of 1997, suggesting the vintage would be one of the best years. When my husband and I arrived in the fall of 2002 on our honeymoon, we bought a few bottles of this promising year and shipped them back to Boston. The Chianti bottles were put in a box labeled “Olive Oil” and arrived unbroken, ready to be admired, but never opened.

Tim Morrissey said...

Aging - a state of mind....