One of the funniest memories in all my wine tasting years involves a winery whose name I can’t remember, and a sweet little old lady I can’t forget.
She sat behind the tasting bar in a trailer, holding a half-full glass of white wine. In front of her was an array of open bottles. I had bypassed the trailer and gone to the winery at the top of the hill, only to be directed back down the drive. It was October and the winery was a hive of activity with trucks dumping their loads of just-picked grapes into the hopper to start the process of turning fruit into wine. I was happy to be away from the heavy equipment and the turmoil.
Sure enough back down the hill was the trailer. I figured the lady for somebody’s grandma who had been removed to this place where she would be safely out from underfoot. How much trouble could she get into in the tasting room, after all?
She was delighted to have someone to talk to. It was the middle of the week and there was no one else around. She was only too happy to tell me about the wines her grandson (ah-ha, I had guessed right!) — surely the best, smartest and most dedicated wine maker on the planet — had produced.
At the time I was a neophyte in the world of wine. I could tell a red from a white, a table wine from a dessert wine, but that was the extent of it. However, since I was alone and I was driving, I was very circumspect about my drinking. I told her I didn’t want to taste any whites, only the reds, and that she should pour lightly.
I cannot swear exactly how the conversation went, but I do remember she insisted on my working the way down the considerable array of wines. Even skipping the whites, there were still 5-6 wines to taste. And while she poured and chatted and extolled the virtues of whichever wine was in my glass, she continued to sip from her own glass. The level of her glass didn’t seem to diminish much, then I realized she was quietly refilling off her glass every few sips.
At the end — after the red blends, the Merlot, the Cab and whatever else, she said to me, (and this I remember quite clearly), “I know you don’t like whites, dear, but I really do wish you would try this one.” Now really, how could I say no to this sweet lady who had been so delightful. I agreed and she reached for a clean glass “don’t want anything to get in the way of the flavor,” she said with an impish grin.
The wine, I believe, was a Riesling, very light, very pleasant with a lovely floral aroma. On the palate it was fruity and light with, yes, definite sweetness. It was cool and smooth.
“Oh, that’s nice,” I told her. “I think I’d better get some of that.”
She nodded sagely as she rang up my purchase. “You can’t go wrong with this,” she told me. “It’s a wine you can open in the morning and drink all day long.” Her smile was quite serene — and perhaps slightly mischievous.
Once in awhile when I come across a light sweet wine that just slides down, my mind’s eye goes back to that trailer and I see her sitting there, happily sipping at her wine. “Yep,” I think to myself, “I could do that. I could open this in the morning and drink it all day long.”
It’s been many years since that day, but I hope she is still sipping her wine and smiling gently, whether in this world or the next.