So how did this fascination of mine with wine develop? I remember the days of Annie Green Springs wine (last produced in 1977). Or Almaden jug wine, it comes in a box today; but a box would never work for a candleholder, which graced many of our tables, alongside concrete block bookshelves, and kerosene lamps, in the late 60’s. We thought Blue Nun was for special occasions. Growing up under the cloud that “good Christian boys don’t drink” added a cavalier mystic about the whole thing.
Somewhere along the way tastes and availability changed. In the late 60’s and the 70’s wine was either a cheap drink that tasted cheap, or the beverage of the hoity-toity. Us commoners drank beer; Bud or Miller, or spirits, mine was Black Velvet. We drank either for social status or for the buzz; thankfully my goal was rarely for the buzz, but I did fit in with the crowd.
Today I drink beverages for one reason, the enjoyment of taste. I drink San Pellegrino because I like the carbonation, wines of all types because of the tastes and experience, beers and whisky. The whole idea of intoxication is revolting, but the pleasure of taste is wonderful. And of course Martin Luther got it right when he said, “Beer is made by men, wine by God.”
1986-1987 marked a turning point in my life. Divorce, new job, new marriage, new city – all resulted in a new relationship to food and wine.
Pre-1986 my culinary repertoire included Hamburger Helper, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and dehydrated Potatoes Au Gratin. Special occasions might produce steak, baked potato, and broccoli. Beverages were usually beer.
On my own, living on a houseboat at Hayden Island in Portland, I began to cook, nothing exciting but less out of a box. Sautéed mushrooms, and some experiments that turned out badly, but I have not had Hamburger Helper since.
A new lady in my life who drank wine, liked good food, and listened to jazz changed it all; add a new boss who frequented fine restaurants, ordered wine I would never have known of let alone been able to afford, produced the climate for change. I developed a taste that my mother tells me I had when I was in the 7th grade experimenting with gourmet cooking; it just needed the right environment.
Our first wine club was Sunset Magazine, a grand adventure in each shipment for one such as I who had tasted so few. The dates and times get cloudy looking back all these years, but we visited a winery one day in Dundee, Oregon; there was a trip or two to Sonoma in California, the interest was growing.
Then Trader Joe’s came to Lynnwood. Wine from all over the world, at prices we could afford. Two-Buck-Chuck (Shaw) never did work, but there were plenty of wines that did. We tried new labels, asked for advice, all the while I was attempting to act as if I knew what I was talking about. In those days we splurged on $8 bottles for special occasions.
More trips to Sonoma, returning from each one with many bottles in the trunk, we actually had extra bottles in the house, a wine cellar! So sophisticated. The final push happened when our daughter went to George Fox College in Newberg, Oregon. It is located in the heart of the Oregon wine country. We quickly became regulars at a few of the wineries and restaurants.
Torii Mor was our first winery-based club, the rest is history; many more trips to wine areas, more wine clubs, lots of reading and tasting. Wine is more than the liquid in the glass; there is a style of life, the ambiance of the tasting rooms, the beauty of the vineyards, the pleasure of fellowshipping with friends and food.
Today I am often sipping wine with pen ink and paint; sketching a winery over a glass of wine is one of life’s great pleasures. These last 27 years I have been privileged to eat some wonderful food, taste some fantastic wines, and see some incredible sites. I am grateful to God every day for the blessing of travel, taste, and friends. Sante!