I have tried many times to start a wine collection. But this is difficult for me because (1) I am content with wine that costs less than $10 a bottle and (2) I drink it all.
Living in New York has been somewhat of a drinker's paradise after living in the alcohol police state of Pennsylvania. The grocery store has aisles of delicious microbrews and the liquor store down the road has its own loyalty/discount card. YES. Value prices for those who willingly sign up to admit they like booze! Not to mention the plethora of rebates available - sending in those little annoying cards has become part of my couponing madness and I must say, it is very gratifying. (When you cease to have a "real job", it's nice to see my name on an incoming check every so often!)
Right now my wine collection consists of the remainder of the case of Ravenswood Zinfandel that Gregory gave me for Christmas. I am not going to admit how many bottles are left.
However, until the New Year, I had achieved a personal record for hanging onto a bottle of wine for almost a year. For purely sentimental reasons, it was hard for me to open up this bottle and find the "perfect" time to savor it. It wasn't expensive; it didn't hail from a prized wine region - but the grapes were smashed and the liquid goodness was then bottled in Sewickley by the group at Fern Hollow Nature Center.
Why would this bottle mean so much to me? Well, it's more of a "who" than a "why". This type of traditional Italian wine-making has been carried on by Marisa Tobias and her family... but I enjoyed it as well when Marisa's father was the one growing, smashing and preserving wine in his basement. I grew up across the street from her family and to say the least, Pete and Nanny served as an extra set of grandparents.
I clearly remember spending many afternoons and nights in their house - eating (homemade) Pizelles, (homemade) spaghetti, (homegrown) peppers.... you get the idea. In our little pocket of Sewickley, it could very well have been Italy. And I'm not the only one who thinks so! Just after Elliot was born, I attended the Italian garden tour. I knew all of these families growing up, but I never appreciated how important their traditions were and how unique that kind of lifestyle has become. I follow their mantra when I envision over half of my yard being used as gardening space (and someday chickens and goats!).
But back to the wine. After moving away from my hometown and carrying this one bottle of red goodness to another state - I seem to have focused many of my sentimentalities on this one item. Of course I missed the rooms of my house, and my neighbors and friends and yard and neighborhood Giant Eagle. I felt like I needed to wait for the perfect time to truly appreciate this symbol of my past.
After almost a year of living in Buffalo, that time had not come! And duh, this wine had nothing to do with anniversaries or birthdays or Christmas... it was something that only I was placing utmost importance on.
So I drank it. Mostly because I was warned that homemade wine might not have the longest shelf life. And it was delicious. Cheers to my surrogate grandparents and their legacies, and to the Tobias family for being true historians (I haven't even mentioned my Nanny cookbook!). Cheers to Sewickley (and Buffalo) and many more bottles of wine: whether they are store-bought with a value card or stomped with loving memory.