Once upon a time, wine was wine was wine. Wine was once a means to feel slightly fancier when going out with the girls, a way to avoid the bloat of beer, and the speedy effectiveness of liquor. Wine came in boxes, was named after a cheap bloke named Charlie, and had three flavors: red, white, and bubbly. And yet, I was a wine lover even then.
For years, I existed as an amateur wine lover. My mantra was: “I don’t know much about wine – I just know that I love it!” Even as I began to seek out “wine knowledge,” I had yet to experience that life changing glass of wine. As of a couple years ago, I had read enough about wine to know that most, or at least many, wine professionals, could identify a moment in their life – sometimes even a particular glass of wine – that had unlocked their true passion for wine. I had yet to have that moment. I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was a wine-loving fraud. It wasn’t enough to simply love drinking wine, I needed to know why. I needed to have a story. I needed my “once upon a time” moment. As hard as I tried to discover a truly memorable and defining glass of wine, I spent years succeeding only in discovering what wine varieties I did not like (sorry Sauvignon Blanc) and settling on the truism that you really can drink rosé all day.
Until one day.
My husband – the knight in shining armor to my wine fairy tale – is a self-proclaimed foodie. As often as I was searching for an unforgettable wine, he was searching for the perfectly adventurous dinner and a great beer to go with it. He discovered a small restaurant in D.C., near our apartment, that took pride (justifiably so) in having a fantastic menu, great cocktails, an excellent selection of craft beers, and a thoughtful wine list. The wines ranged in variety, appellation, style, and price, and the bartender was generous in his tastings allowance. This was promising.
In all honesty, I think we frequented this restaurant on a somewhat regular basis for several months before anything extraordinary happened. I tasted a lot of great wines – and I knew they were great because they tasted delicious. We always left happy – and we always went back for more.
It was a hot summer evening when my fairy tale adventure with wine truly came to life. We ordered a cheese plate (to keep things light), and I asked the bartender if I could sample a trio of white wines he thought might pair well with the cheeses we had selected. While I am sure the other two wines were also delicious, one stood out from all the rest. It stood out from wines that came before and it promised to stand out from the wines of my future.
Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay.
Maybe it was the hot air and the aged and robust Gouda I had just tasted, but with my first sip of this wine it was as though I finally understood what all the fuss was about. It was crisp and refreshing (yes!), but it was also surprisingly complex (woo hoo!). I could taste flavors I couldn’t yet name (which I have now come to associate with light oak, peach, wild flowers, a hint of butter). Not only was the wine delicious and interesting, it made my cheese taste better! The cheese made the wine taste better! This was it!
Since that day I have had other bottles of Ramey’s Russian River Valley Chardonnay (they have yet to disappoint). I have also had many wonderful glasses of other wines that now invoke in me a similar sense of excitement and awe. There are wines that make my taste buds hum and wines that instantaneously soften the world around me and demand that I sit back, relax, and sip on. I can spend hours (and glasses) searching for the perfect pinot noir to satisfy my most recent fancy (mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms!), and far too much time explaining the way the slight effervescence of my favorite rosé dances on my tongue. But Ramey was my first – and I am confident that we will live happily ever after. The End. #MWWC33 #Ramey #Firstlove #RussianRiverValley #wineisgouda