Blog: The Chicks Uncorked
The personalized bottles of wine I was gifted for a special birthday.
Red and white wine tastings on the Napa Valley Wine Train.
The bottle of Cab in JFK’s favorite booth, blocks from his home in Washington DC.
The wine served in The Rolling Stones’ backstage VIP tent in Hamburg, Germany.
All vibrant, poignant experiences etched in my brain for as long as my memory will serve. In each instance the wine was delicious, naturally, and it punctuated something really special happening.
Real Dogs Wine …
The gift of a case of wine featuring photos of my dogs and me remains one of the most thoughtful and creative presents I’ve ever received. I admittedly ran through the six reds and six whites at a generous pace, and I kept an empty bottle of each. The bottles remind me of this sweet birthday bounty; the dear friend who gave them to me; and the three scrumptious dogs, who have since passed, featured on the labels with me.
All Aboard …
The Napa Valley Wine Train was something I’d added to my bucket list many moons earlier when I’d read about it in an in-flight magazine. It combined the coziness I imagined about upscale train rides with what had to be some of the best wines in the world. It did not disappoint! The lush landscapes that flickered by out the wide train windows were mesmerizing; the train was even more ornate than I’d expected and the food that accompanied the vino was exquisite – and it accommodated my vegetarian diet beautifully.
JFK’s Favorite Booth …
Prior to moving to Washington DC in 2019, for 10 straight years I visited the city once or twice a year for various conferences. On that first visit in 2009, I discovered Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown, renowned for its lush crimson and golden colors, wooden booths and incomparable history (every president from Truman to Bush dined there).
Paintings by our very own Ruby from her Georgetown collection: The Rumble Seat and JFK’s Georgetown home during the presidential campaign; press who gathered in front were brought coffee and donuts daily.
One of its most notable features is “The Rumble Seat,” the half booth by the windows that then-Senator John F. Kennedy favored. He would regularly eat lunch and read the paper after Mass on Sundays and later wrote his Inauguration speech there; before that, back in 1953, he proposed to Jackie a few booths away … How my friend and I got seated in the coveted half booth on my first visit is pure luck, and we celebrated with a remarkable bottle of Cabernet.
Tremendous Satisfaction …
Then there was backstage in the VIP tent at a Rolling Stones concert in Hamburg, Germany.
So. Much. To. See!
In one corner was Mick’s then-teenage son James playing on a pinball machine. To my right was Keith Richards’ father Bert wearing a Stones’ baseball hat, sitting in a wheelchair, smoking. In the far right corner was a feast, a spread of libations the likes of which I’ll never gaze upon again, from Keith’s legendary Shepherd Pie to many bottles of the most exquisite, full-bodied red wine.
The entire experience was far more surreal than even I expected, so I didn’t notice the label on this wine, but I did note it had an alcohol content of 18.5%!! That helped when I first laid my eyes on Mick, who peeked only his head out the curtained doorway and slowly surveyed the crowd before committing to joining the party. I could go on and on about the magic of the entire experience, but I’ll pick it up another time.
What these four memories have in common is of course the delicious wine, but something much more, too. They were all moments in time when I was completely aware of how special life can be and how grateful I was to know the people who helped bring those events to life with me and for me.
Each scenario also had a special connection to history, and as an undergrad History major who tends to muse about the past frequently, this aspect is paramount. As I mentioned, the case of wine was tied to a momentous (too-old-to-say-aloud) birthday; the restored historic train ride felt like an elegant trip back to the 1930s; sipping wine in JFK’s booth gave me a glimpse of Camelot; and being in the company of the world’s greatest rock & roll band brought me close up and personal with the music and its makers I’d cherished most for decades.
Now, not every sip of wine can come with such rich, significant moments, but I still try to savor every mouthful as though it holds its own kind of magic. Because it does.