Many people have seminal moments or turning points in their lives and quite possibly the lives of those around them. Often those moments center on great tragedies, successes or emotional events. What about the little moments of revelation? Those little unassuming, possibly inconsequential moments that we find, many years later, have shaped our lives in ways one would never imagine and possibly the life of one yet to be conceived.
As I am now in my fifties with children away in college in the state where I was born but not where I live, I consider a small moment that no doubt forgotten by all in attendance, but me. My son is a Viticulture and Enology major and I often take pleasure in stating this fact, not only because I am proud if him and share his passion for wine but frankly, it is fun to watch the expressions on peoples’ faces that are unfamiliar with the terms. Those who know me often respond with something like “well, that acorn didn’t fall far from the tree”. I am known amongst my peers as something of a vinophile. Some even say a wine snob, but I think not.
South Texas 1975 was filled with beer drinking cowboys and fine wine was something relegated to people on PBS shows. My family was no different. My father didn’t drink at all and my mother would partake of the occasional margarita, cheap wine or, if it was a big celebration, Champagne. It was actually Andre’s Cold Duck which resembles Welch’s sparking grape juice with a sickening sweetness added. As a result, I openly detested wine and champagne.
Christmas 1977 found me and my girlfriend at my grandparent’s home for a holiday celebration. My grandfather, Luther, traveled the world and while he did not often see him drink wine, he did appreciate fine scotch. Another preference of his I inherited.
I heard Luther call me from across the crowded room, to ask for some help. On the bar sat a case of Moet White Star, something I’d never seen. He needed help pouring and serving. Together we carefully slid lines of bubbly liquid into hand blown flutes. As we finished he asked me to raise a glass because he wanted to toast my successful semester in college. I reluctantly picked up the glass and wrinkled my nose. He asked “what’s the matter?” I responded “I really don’t care for champagne.” “Try this, he said. The dry bubbles combined with the slightly yeasted wine were a wonderful surprise.
I looked at Luther and said “I’ve never had anything like this, it’s amazing.” He put his hand on my shoulder, looked in my eyes and said in his best Texas drawl “Son, this is Champagne…it’s not that crap your mother drinks. Come back next week and I’ll introduce you to Cabernet.”