"What are we doing tonight?" I asked Jeffy, early on New Year's Eve. Having just bounced off a plane as an escapee from Snowpocalypse 2010, for me, 2011's first night was not destined to be a raucous affair.
"We're cooking," said Jeffy. "And we're going to drink a Sideways bottle of wine."
That got my attention.
As a wine lover and a movie lover, Sideways was something of a seminal moment for me. More affecting, certainly, than Bottle Shock (although Chris Pine's wig certainly made an indelible impression). It is true that, when you're a wine lover, your relationship with the beloved grape sometimes takes precedence over relationships with other, more minor things, such as -- say -- people. At least, that is what Paul Giamatti's character would have us believe.
But who can forget the penultimate scene in the movie, when Giamatti drinks his prized bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc, the one he was saving for his tenth wedding anniversary, from a foam cup in a fast food restaurant, by himself? We all have our Sideways bottles, and the revelation is that they're not defined by their price points, but by the people we plan to drink them with.
Jeffy's bottle? Geyser Peak 2006 Block Collection River Road Ranch Sauvignon Blanc. Compared to that Chateau Cheval Blanc, it's a lowly bottle, with a retail price of only twenty bucks. But it was purchased on a romantic ramble through the wine country, with a love now lost. We replaced that lost love with some Morbière cheese, a roast chicken, a bit of feline company, and lots of chatter, which almost seemed to do the trick: there certainly was no wistfulness around the table as we ushered 2010 out the door.
My bottle? I actually have more than one. Several that, like the Geyser Peak, were purchased to be consumed with lost loves, whose faces I sometimes see in my dreams. But my foremost Sideways bottle? A 2006 La Sirena Cabernet Sauvignon. Made by Heidi Barrett (remember Chris Pine's wig?), a woman winemaker, and secreted away, to be uncorked with friends on an upcoming -- momentous-- birthday. And, as lovely as the wine will be, its memory will be defined not by the moment when I drank it, but by the company I was keeping.
Happy new year, my friends.