Wine Not? A Brief History of my Relationship with Wine

I thought today would be an opportune time for me to briefly discuss my relationship with wine. It began in the womb really as wine sort of runs in my blood what with my Italian, French, and Spanish heritage (yes, I’m quite the mutt). But the womb is not where I want to begin this story. I want to begin this story on a hot summer day in ‘96 in a small town outside of St. Louis called Sandoval, Illinois.

My dad and I were visiting my nonna, cousins, aunts, and uncles for a week. We were staying at my nonna’s small elderly housing community on a large swath of open land. I was about twelve years old at the time, so I still ate meat. I was very much looking forward to my dad’s famous roast he was cooking for dinner that evening. My dad was an amazing cook. He would infuse the roast beef with jalapeños, marinate it in red wine for hours, and then smoke it on the grill. My mouth still salivates thinking of it even after seven years of no meat.

My cousin, Jacob, and I would entertain ourselves with my grandma’s dog or by walking around the town talking for hours about what we wanted to be when we grew up. While my dad was outside with all of the other adults that afternoon, preparing our dinner, my cousin and I decided that we were going to drink the rest of the wine my dad used to marinate the meat.

We later found out over roaring laughter bellowing from our dads that the wine was cooking wine not actual drinking wine. Here we were thinking we were getting buzzed before we were teenagers, but it was nothing but the placebo effect. To make matters worse, we thought mixing the “wine” with Dr. Pepper was a good idea. I don’t know what made us think this would be a good idea. I also don’t remember being completely turned off by the taste. Then again, I didn’t exactly possess a wine tasting palate at the age of twelve.

Wine was my beverage of choice at college parties. Granted, it wasn’t the best tasting grocery store bought Pinot Grigio out there but it was better than carbonated cooking wine cocktails. When I first began drinking wine regularly, I steered clear of reds. Fast forward a few years later and I can say my palate has developed and matured quite to my satisfaction. Now, I prefer full-bodied, spicy reds, more specifically Malbecs from Argentina and my favorite, Carmenere from Chile. In the uncomfortable heat of the summer you will certainly catch me with a glass of white or rosé in hand. You will not, however catch me drinking ports, sherrys, or any variety of highly sweet and/or floral wines.

Will Travel for Wine

For my thirty-first birthday, I road tripped it to California’s famed wine country, touring a plethora of wineries and their tasting rooms. If you plan on making a vacation out of this, I recommend purchasing the Sonoma wine passport prior to your trip. The passport grants the purchaser many free tastings at a large selection of wineries in the region. A couple of my favorites were Matanzas Creek and D’Argenzio in Santa Rosa. D’argenzio also has a small tasting room in the community of Burbank in Los Angeles.

Bodega Bay, Gourmet Au Bay, California wine tasting
Chillin’ on the deck at Gourmet Au Bay, wine tasting, enjoying the stunning scenery in Bodega Bay

Wine and I have come a long way from that summer day in Illinois. What began as the cousinly desire for mischief resulted in lifelong appreciation and love for what I like to deem, the beverage of the Gods – vino. And who knows? Maybe we were on to something. Forget cheese; would you like Dr. Pepper with that wine?

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