Thursday, June 11, 2015

Wine for a Small Party

You can make fun of my passion for all things summer all you want.

"Oh, my dear, you must be getting the vapors this afternoon, as steamy as it is," the soft male voice drawls in a thick southern accent when the phone unexpectedly rings mid-afternoon.

Ignoring his condescension, I explain that when an afternoon gets to be too much, I simply tilt the blinds and lay down for a bit, a time-honored southern way to deal with the summer heat. But today it's a temperate 83 degrees - admittedly inside and outside the apartment - and I hadn't the slightest need for a mid-day lie down.

What he's really calling for is to make plans for the later part of the night.

When he asks, "What time is the first seating?" I understand that he's asking when my first plans of the evening begin. Hearing that they begin at 5, he immediately puts me on notice to join him and friends post-plans.

My first seating is with my fellow Gemini to belatedly celebrate our birthdays at Amour. We're the first ones in - despite what passes for "heavy" traffic getting to Carytown from Church Hill - and begin with Le Petit Rouvier Rose and three small plates (mussels, steak and fried eggplant) over talk of John Currance's restaurants, three of which we've been to.

When people begin arriving around us, we realize the Alsatian wine tasting is about to begin and promptly put on our wine goggles. Gemini makes an aside that she may not be able to keep up, an amusing comment given that she practically taught me to drink six years ago.

"But I'm tasting to taste now," she says, making a distinction and putting herself at the mercy of my bad jokes.

No surprise, from the very first wine we taste, Cave de Belbenheim Heimberger Pinot Blanc with a nose of honeysuckle that makes me want to dive into it, we are led through a series of interesting wines that demonstrate the terroir, styles and flavor profiles of Alsace. Having an Alsatian teacher only makes it better.

That small plates arrive with each set of pairings is an unexpected surprise, especially after we'd just polished off a meat and cheese plate (the Morbier so deliciously barnyard funky we paused for cow poop humor) not long before. We are nothing if not hearty eaters.

Our group, which includes a recent new friend and her wine pro boyfriend, moves through Rieslings such as the Cave de Belbenheim Heimberger Riesling with its nose of petrol and citrus, to Pinot Gris (learning that the grape was brought to Alsace from Hungary in the 16th century) and finally to Gewurztraminer, described as "wine for a big party" and heavenly with the accompanying lychee and rose petal sorbet.

Much of our conversation revolved around oral history projects, something that interests us both. Who's collecting the good stories and recipes before the people with them are gone? Why doesn't someone ask us to do it? Where's FDR when you need him?

Five hours and nine wines later, we called it a night, considering our birthdays well celebrated, at least for the moment. Officially, it's my last birthday celebration of the 2015 season, although I'm always open to invitations. Hint, hint.

Once home, I found not one but two messages from the friend who'd called earlier, necessitating one last social gathering for the night. Our foursome took flutes of La Marca Prosecco outside to the deck to enjoy the languid evening heat and banter back and forth. Twice I was shushed for laughing too loud.

In my summer world, I like to think that all the humidity absorbs the sounds of night time laughter, bothering no one. That and everyone else in the first world besides me uses air conditioning, so their windows are sealed shut.

My dear, it's simply wrong to stop a summer lover from laughing on a warm night with friends. Especially when she's on her evening's second seating.


  1. dear gentle blogger:

    possibly it's fair to say that one might assume it's simply "wrong" to stop a summer laugh but remember there are always exceptions to such absolutes. Therefor laughter is not all the same -- some can be 'despite it's joyful origins" rather intrusive, sometimes overpowering the most robust AC systems. Ones ' chatter can morph into a cackle that all may not enjoy, especially late into the evening. Such joy in laughter while understood is naturally not shared by all.... henceforth the shush....Note:

    while fog may dim our vision, mositure in the air does not diminish the roar.


  2. no K I'm not saying you cackle... you don't. I've heard your laugh's healthy, hearty...there's a different.


  3. Thanks for making that distinction, cw. It's not the first time I've been reprimanded for letting my laughter get loud...or probably the last!