Rob Moshein - The Austin Wine Guy

Something that had nothing to do with wine, but has everything to do with wine...

December 01, 2008

My niece had a baby girl recently. Delilah Rose. Rose was my grandmother. My closest grandmother. I actually preferred spending time with her than at home with my parents. I don't know why, honestly. Maybe she understood me better. Or, maybe I just thought she did. Regardless, I loved her deeply. I took her antique carved wooden jewelry box as a memory of her while we cleaned out her house after she died.  I decided to send Grandma Rose's jewelery box to my new Grand Niece, her namesake.  When I dug it out of the chest it was stored in, it was filled with match books.  I had forgotten that was its purpose in my old life. To store match books as memories of wonderful restaurants and bars I had visited. The Ivy in London; Postrio in San Francisco; the original Delmonico's in New York; Trader Vics in the Beverly Hilton. Dozens and Dozens of them, each matchbook one small memory of a meal or evening. Then two, identical, laying at the bottom of the box.  Windows on the World in the World Trade Center.
windows matchbooks

A vivid memory, in New York for a friend's wedding, 1988 or was it 89?. Insisting my best friends who were also there for the wedding come with me to dinner. It was so expensive, extravagent for us. I begged them to come. They relented.  I said I'd buy the wine. Reservations only for 6:30 and we were lucky to get that. We arrived early for drinks and the view. A long long elevator ride up.  I can still see the city, so impossibly small from so impossibly high up on the 107th floor. The sun setting and leaving the city below becoming a sparkle of lights.  I remember seeing the curve of the Earth. I honestly don't know if it was real, but I remember it so.  I remember the wine list, in a leather bound volume bigger than the Beverly Hills City Phone Directory, with amazing wines at more amazing prices. We drank something not so much amazing. I remember grabbing the matchbooks from a big glass bowl by the elevators as a souvenir on the way down; feeling a touch guilty I took two. Silly, now.  I remembered,  watching the Tower fall that day in 2001, like it was the night before, instead of years. To even imagine such a thing, when I was there was unthinkable. Unthinkable...

Today, World AIDS day. I remember. I remember them all. Michael J. Fisher, Esq. my law partner. Mike had one extravagence. His Steinway. That damn Grand filled his tiny living room, but damn when he sat down at it I could swear he was channeling Chopin himself. I might still be an attorney today if he hadn't up and died on me. Ted, a brilliant interior designer with a wicked sense of humor;  Timmy and Don...good buds, who both tended bar at the Spike, when a leather bar was something more than a theme park for the evening's drag. They worked in leather and denim and chains, but their home was a pristine Art Deco setting worthy of Noel Coward. The Baccarat Wine Coaster they brought to Thanksgiving Dinner as a gift one year is still given pride of place at table, now what?, twenty years later. . David W. who at one time owned the Ruby Slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz...I recall him, so very ill, asking me to tell him what paintings he had on approval were ones that I liked, I can see him grin, saying "well, I have to live with this painting for the rest of my life, so it should be good..." Kurt, Cliff, Bob, Bob, Little Kevin, Big Randy and Little Randy, all of them too lost to AIDS.  I went to more funerals in my 30th year than my parents did. Each one, each person, still a vivid memory.

None of you know these people. You never did, never will,  and can never know them now. I did, and that stays with me. Each one, each experience is unique and special. Maybe not perfect, but still good, still nice. Still with me. The experience, I can still share with you.

It suddenly hit me. Like a bolt. A bottle of wine is this same  unique experience. Just the same. You will never know that bottle of '78 Sanford & Benedict Cabernet I shared with Pat over a long lunch at the Chase on State St. in Santa Barbara. You will never know the '78 Lafite Rothschild in Malibu, fingers so numb I could barely hold the glass after hours of bone numbing cold, filling bags of sand to save a friend's beachouse in a winter storm; provided courtesy no less of "Ben de Rothschild", then, equally cold, wet and numb as I having worked along side us those many hours in the rain; now you call him Baron de Rothschild; I, now merely your Wine Guy.  You will never savor '82 Lafite out of a plastic cup with prime Porterhouses grilled on an open wood fire under a galaxy of stars in Joshua Tree National Park. '84 DeLoach OFS Chardonnay in paper cups, on a warm fall afternoon at the Sonoma County Harvest and Jazz Festival with Greg and Lisbeth, listening to Miles Davis, with Cecil DeLoach plopping down beside us and grabbing the bottle, and explaining, while he quaffed down his own wine, what OFS really means. I did.  None of you did. But I will and do remember. None of you will know the wine I had in the past. I can share my experience of them with you, but like Windows on the World, or long gone friends, they will always be with me but no longer with us.

Savor each bottle, and each meal. Make them special, in some small way. Remember them. Savor them. The unthinkable may happen, or may not. The bottle may be empty. The restaurant has perhaps closed, or worse. BUT, the memory of the wine, the taste, the smell, the food, the meal, the view, the evening and most of all the company you shared it with will remain with you always, or at least it should. That is what makes each bottle special.  I can never know the experience you will have with the wine, but YOU will, and you can share it, and you WILL remember and you will share it; and you will smile for it.

Remember, and you will smile. I did, for it all, and was happy for it, for it all.

Rob Moshein

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Raves, rants, musings, ponderings and wine whines... trends, tasting notes, the Austin Wine Guy Rob Moshein shares his world of wine and thoughts about it with you.

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