Even when your sick or stressed from dust and construction and your palate isn't at its best, sometimes you open up a nice bottle of wine (or two) anyway, to treat yourself. We've started construction on the basement. For those of you who are new, there was a flood in the basement that rainy day in August, which has since been declared and actual disaster in Queens. We need to replace all of the flooring and paneling and while we're at it, they're putting up a new ceiling too. The guys are fitting us in, so it's mostly a weekend a project, which began last Saturday. Unfortunately during the demolition stage, where they were yanking down all of the old paneling, unbeknown to anyone the tarp separating the basement from the rest of the house fell down. So there was a fair amount of dust flying about the main floor. I was just getting over an annoying bout of something flu-like and the allergic reaction that ensued set me back quite a bit. There was so much dust that even Alex had a reaction and he's not one to have allergies of any kind. On the bright side, we've cleaned up the mess and work is progressing in the basement.
Since we had to move everything stored in the basement out, our modest wine collection is now spread out between the dining room and our bedroom. It's new home will be in a wine storage unit in the basement, for now though it's on display upstairs. On the bright side, we're becoming a reacquainted with our liberated cachet of bottles. It's depth tends to be more vertical than horizontal, relying heavily on a number of wineries where we are on the mailing lists, rounded out by strategic purchases here and there. We know what we like and so if we choose to invest in a few bottle worth saving, we want to know that we'll enjoy them upon opening.
One of the things that we're realizing is that special bottles can make an occasion. They don't always need to be saved for the "right moment" because it may never come. Instead they should be utilized whenever you'd like to make a moment special. To kick off our dinner party with the readers, we cracked open a magnum of Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut to ease everyone into the evening and create an air of festivity. The Italian bubbles took us from cocktails to the table. This was followed by the Hall Sauvignon Blanc, which we discovered last year at Taste3 when we had dinner in their amazing cellar. It's become a house favorite, surprisingly lush and juicy against the mouthwatering acidity inherent to Sauvignon Blanc. The next wine was a magnum of 1999 ZD Pinot Noir which we purchased at the winery many years back. We were saving it for a special occasion and this one fit the bill admirably. It was delicious, it's dark brambly flavors of roasted raspberries and sweet spices pairing equally well, yet to different effect with the cock's combs, veal breast, and the burrata. We finished up with a Jackson-Triggs Vidal Ice Wine. Although we did not pair wines with every course for this meal, we did choose ones that we felt matched well with our food and utilized some large format bottles for their spirit of generosity and their convivial air.
The beauty of wine is that it is meant to be drunk and to be shared. Pulling dusty bottles out of the cellar reminded us that they were meant to be savored with good company. Last night we celebrated a Sunday evening at home by opening a 2004 Peter Michael Sauvignon Blanc and a 2003 Ramey Diamond Mountain District. Perhaps it was foolish to open such bottles when our noses and palates were not at their best. I can firmly say that it was worth the experience. We still swirled and sniffed and luxuriated in each small sip. If we missed a few nuances so be it. We had the bottles in our collection, simply waiting to be tasted. Now I realize that not everyone has a closet full of wines to choose from. On the other hand, most of us have a bottle or two or three stashed away for that perfect occasion. That moment is sooner than you think. The wines last evening made a simple dinner something special and there is no price tag for that.