My friend Katie has a tradition. Every Sunday evening she battens down the hatches, "shutting out the night," she says, and uncorks a bottle of crisp, fruity sauvignon blanc. Then she starts dinner, pouring a glass of her favorite wine for her husband and for herself. With four kids, community work and a traveling spouse, Sunday evening is often the only time she can gather her family around the table. I think of Katie most every Sunday winter evening around 5 pm as I pull the shades against Chicago's snow and bluster.
This is my first weekly blog post, and I'm dedicating it to Katie and to all those who find fellowship and community around a glass of wine. Men and women who consciously simmer down and slow the velocity of their lives when they hear the soft pop of a cork.
But also, mes amis, I promise to give you all a real Weekly Drink at the end of each post – my weekly wine pick, that I buy and try for your imbibing pleasure. Because the purpose of wine, I truly believe, is pleasure. Chosen carefully and consumed thoughtfully, wine offers a taste of place. A touch of adventure. A balm for the soul.
Now that's worth gathering for.
Each Weekly Drink pick will be easy on your wallet, mostly around $10 a bottle, well balanced, well-made and worry free. I've done the research so you can raise your glass.
Over the past three decades, I've raised my glass often. Wine has been a pleasurable window onto other worlds and a sometimes not-so-pleasurable window into myself. It seems strange, this love of wine, because my Iowa parents never drank. Except for when mom accidentally ordered Sangria on a Chicago weekend trip. ("This is good fruit juice!")
For me, it all began in Paris, where I met my husband during my junior year of college.
“You’ll have a glass of wine, won’t you?” he asked on our first date, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. We were having lunch at the Bar de la Croix Rouge, shoehorned behind a corner table at the tiny Left Bank café.
“Bien sûr,” I said. Of course I would have wine. This was France, after all, and it was high time I graduate from unshaven legs and poetry to high heels and wine.
He ordered a quarter carafe of rouge. I can’t remember what kind but it must’ve been cheap, given our student budgets. I do recall, though, how easily my French boyfriend chose this over that from the wine list. In a casual way, the way boys back home would have chosen PBR over Miller Lite.
There was more. Like how generously he filled my glass before serving himself. The way he absent-mindedly sniffed and nodded before taking the first sip of wine. And how he didn’t touch his glass again until our open-faced pâté and pickle sandwiches arrived.
So in addition to evidence of my boyfriend’s unselfish nature, I also experienced wine’s natural role in French mealtime – kind of like liquid bread, and certainly not an “alcoholic beverage” subject to harsh regulation or a strictly enforced drinking age.
Since then, a love of wine has bound us together, as they say, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, through diapers and college applications. Thirty years later, I thought of Katie as we uncorked our Weekly Drink last Sunday. It's not a sauvignon blanc. But I think Katie will like this wine anyway, because summer is finally here. And this is the perfect warm weather white.
Cline Viognier North Coast 2012
Purchased at Whole Foods
- $9.99 on special
- $12.99 regular price
A fresh, citrusy white wine made of a grape called Viognier ("Vee-Oh-Knee-Ay"). From California's Sonoma Valley. Serve lightly chilled.
This wine's pale watery hue reminds me of transparent topaz. When you smell it, you get a mash up of peach and honeysuckle. That's the characteristic scent of Viognier grapes in California wine. But then you take a sip and surprise, surprise. In your mouth it's not sweet. Instead, it's clean and zingy, kind of like pink grapefruit. A happy summer wine.
Find other wines by Cline Cellars here