John, who may be better known as The Wine Raconteur, won the last Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #16 (#MWWC16) and just like all winners of the Challenge, his “reward” was to choose the theme for the following Challenge. His decision for #MWWC17, “Epiphany” is one that every wine lover is aware of. I don’t think I have ever spoken to another oenophile who can not recall their “Ah Ha” moment, that one wine that stands out from all the others, the one that all other wines are compared to. The one wine that has been placed on the pedestal and will never be taken down.
An epiphany, (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, “manifestation, striking appearance”) accordingng to the wikipedia free dictionary, is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Of course there is also the other definition, of being a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Now if any of my fellow wine writers can bring that into this challenge, I believe you deserve the automatic win! Because, in my opinion, if you do that, just like Jesus turning water into wine, you have pulled off a mighty miracle and kudos to you.
I, however, am going with the easier and more obvious route. Picture it, 1992. I am just a wee lass, not too far removed from college working as a microbiologist for a major food company. I am in a meeting. I hate meetings. I am bored to death. Not that it takes much for me to be bored, but this was really a tedious meeting. I doodled on the papers that were in front of me, I played with my pen while I fidgeted in my seat and I admit, I may have taken a snooze. But at some point during this meeting I had to converse with some colleagues and play some stupid “group bonding” game. (yes, I recognize the irony in this, since I now teach Project Adventure and the entire curriculum is based on these similar games) But for this game we had to turn around and behind me was Marilyn! Oh help me, I could not be her partner. (you can read all about Marilyn in my Valentine’s Day Tale post.) For the sake of this edition, let’s just say Marilyn was a character and without her Mike and I would not be together and leave it at that.
Skip ahead almost a year. Mike and I are together and have found our way to the wine aisle of the local grocery store. Yes, we were the bottom shelf wine buyers at this time. To add to the confession, I was a huge “Critter Wine Label” consumer. The cuter that darn animal, the more I wanted to buy that wine. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think the wine was great but at that point I didn’t think it was so awful either. It was drinkable and they were so adorable they made me smile. Who doesn’t smile when they see penguins dancing, rabbits hopping or a moose wearing sunglasses?
Then it happened, one day we were in the wine store – yep, an actual wine shop and something caught my eye. I don’t know if it was the gold or the silver or more likely a sale sticker, but there it was. It was as if the North star itself was shining brightly upon this wine in its manger leading me to where it lay in rest. (get it? North Star – ephiphany! (do I win any votes for that?)
So I hopped off my camel, and kneeled near the manger, with no gifts to give, I played my drum for the wine. Oh wait, that’s a different story, sorry. Anyway, I did kneel, since ironically, the bin was a lower one and there laying in it was a 1992 Ferrari Carano Chardonnay.
I am sure many people have a wine budget. It would be a beautiful thing if you didn’t need to have one. What is interesting is how that budget changes as you progress through your wine life. Back then, our maximum cap was $20. There was no way any wine could be worth spending that much money on. But luckily, as I said it was on sale for $18, so being a good boyfriend and not wanting to upset me, Mike agreed to the purchase.
I have no clue what we made for dinner that night. That was not the memorable part of the evening. What I do remember is Mike pulling the wine out of the refrigerator and poured it. (It was a white so it had to be served cold, right?!) I took a sip and smiled while shaking my head that I liked it, but placed it back down on the table while we finished preparing dinner. When we sat down to eat, I took another sip, and “AH HA!” holy crap this wine was phenomenal! The wine had warmed up a bit and allowed it to shine. It was love at first taste. It was the first time that I thoroughly enjoyed drinking a wine (and learned that white wines are not be served directly out of the refrigerator – BONUS!)
After that evening, there was no turning back. I was hit hard by the wine bug and I wanted more. Whenever we were having wine, I wanted THAT wine. Every other wine we tasted wasn’t THAT wine. I started to appreciate the aromas and flavors of the wines we were drinking, because I was comparing it to what I smelled and tasted in my Ferrari Carano wine. So not only was it my “ah ha” moment, it truly was a turning point for me, it was my ephiphany. It was at that moment I became a newbie wine connoisseur. I really had no clue about the nuances that wines can have. I didn’t know the difference between Syrah, Sirah or Shiraz, but I did know what I liked and I learned from each wine we compared.
I think Mike purchased every bottle of 1992 FC Chard that was in the area. In fact, I know he traveled quite a distance to get the final case in the area as the vintage became harder to find. Our very good friends John and Karen of Jean Edwards Cellars even gave it to us as part of our wedding gift and always made sure they had it on hand when we had dinner together. (aren’t they awesome friends?!) To this day, I am a Ferrari Carano fan. When we go to Sonoma, we visit. The gardens are absolutely amazing! So if you are in the area, stop by and check out their beautiful winery and if you are in a store, do yourself a favor and check out their wines! It may not turn out to be your ah ha wine, but I am sure you will not be disappointed.
PS- It would totally make my day Ferrari Carano followed us on twitter. I am by far their #1 fan, but if they choose to continue not to follow, I guess I will have to sadly accept my hopes and dreams being shattered. :o(
Great story. As you will see in my upcoming article I really have never had a wine epiphany. My wine journey is more steady constant progress. Doesn’t matter how you get here folks just get here! Cheers!
I can’t wait to read yours. You are absolutely right, it is not how you got to be a winelover as long as you did! slainte!
Great post! Out of curiosity, is this wine in the oaky or unoaky category? We are going to Sonoma soon, and I love chardonnay.
FC in my opinion is an un-oaky Chardonnay. If you are I. Sonoma you don’t want to miss FC. The wines are great and the gardens are unbelievable. It is a memorable experience.
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