I bought my copy of Kermit Lynch's Adventures Along the Wine Route in 1993. To say it is dog-eared and well-loved would be a gargantuan understatement. I have read it cover to cover at least once a year since then, but also pull it out to revisit favorite stories and characters. I quote it fairly frequently. I am guilty of forcing it upon anyone I feel would either enjoy it and/or benefit from the reading. I have given it as a gift more times than I care to relate. In short, I love it; it's an old favorite.
Notes From All Over
If you're looking for an authority on March, look to the prairies of the upper Midwest. Growing up in the Dakotas, I always found the calendar images for March perplexing. They were full of shamrocks and tulips and-above all-greenery. March on the prairie did not look like that. It was cold, brown, and windswept, with just enough snow to remind you that winter was still in charge. Garrison Keillor (radio raconteur and former host of A Prairie Home Companion) knows this; he hails from Minnesota. March is a fat man in plaid pants? Yes.
"Riesling is everybody's Charlie Brown, the lovable loser possessed of abundant charm and talent, waiting to be tapped if only the marketplace, the proverbial Lucy pulling the ball away before the would-be successful kick, would see what the rest of us know."
-Terry Theise, Importer
Scene: a public place. A child-not a toddler, but an 'old enough to know better' kid- and at least one parent. And you. Said child does something awful...throws an absolute hissy fit, repeatedly kicks the back of an airplane seat, licks the food for sale in a retail case. Said parent does....nothing at all.
What do YOU do? If you can honestly say you don't judge the parent just a little, then you are a better, more charitable person than I am. Even worse: it's your kid. You wish the floor would open up and swallow you, because you KNOW you're being judged.
On Thursday, I did something fairly mad. While the Northeast was girding its loins for a major snowstorm, hunkered down with emergency supplies of bread, milk, batteries, and a little beer and wine, I drove to Westwood and hopped aboard the 5:19 AM train to NY. Why? Because Thursday was the Tre Bicchieri tasting, where the creme de la creme (de la creme!) of Italy's current releases are opened up for the trade. The best wines of the year, all in one room, along with many old friends....who would miss that? Not me.
"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." -Voltaire
We live in the age of inclusion. The land of the free, the home of the brave. Ground Zero for freedom of speech. Haven for immigrants. (Or at least we were until January 29th.) But....can there be too much inclusion and political correctness? Can we go too far? After all, true freedom of thought is impossible without the right to dissent.
I am a big proponent of outlines-not necessarily a formal ABC 123 hierarchy, just a simple flow chart. It has driven me substantially nuts that I could not convince my daughter to use outlines when writing school papers. Granted, given a certain familiarity with a subject and a relatively quick wit, you can probably turn out a decent paper without one. But a plan of attack helps you crystallize your thoughts and manage transitions between different ideas. Good writing is all about those transitions.
Do you have books you have read until they're dog-eared and falling apart? Books you pick off the shelf to re-read a favorite passage which speaks to something going on in your life that day? For me, Kathleen Norris' Dakota: A Spiritual Geography is chief among those favorites. Her loving but entirely unsentimental treatment of my native landscape never fails to thrill; she captures both the pristine beauty of the land and the twin challenges of isolation and economic stagnation with equal aplomb.
Want to incite fear and loathing in a retailer? One word: Inventory. That's right- I spent the last several days bending, stretching, lifting, moving, perched on a step-stool, kneeling on the floor...and counting. Counting every single item in the store. I love talking about our products, tasting them, selling them. Counting, them, not so much. By the time we finished, I was both creaky and cranky, longing for a yoga class followed by a glass of wine.
This Friday morning found us in New York for a post-New Year, pre-return to college day trip. First stop: the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, a re-creation of immigrant life in the city from 1863 til the 1930s. We took the 'Shops' tour, which starts in an 1880's German-style beer saloon. From our modern perspective, it's hard to imagine why whole families would gather in this cramped, dark space. But tour their apartments (much smaller) and consider their circumstances, and you get it: this was their living room, where they relaxed and met friends and family.