It’s fun to pursue wine.
To us, wine always taste better when there's a story involved. Maybe it's an adventure. Or perhaps a dear friend shared a bottle with us. The bottle may have been part of an important celebration.
For the past year or so, I’ve looked for a bottle of E. Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape every time I wandered into a wine store. It became a mini-obsession. A wine Moby Dick of sorts.
I suppose I could have searched for it on the internet, but what would be the fun in that?
Sally and I first discovered the wine when we dined at Le Mistral in Houston with Sally’s brother Greg and his wife Jennifer. Sally’s mom, Mabeth, had treated us to a chef’s table dinner there for Christmas in 2011.
Mabeth's parting words as we left for dinner were, "Dinner is on me unless my son-in-law decides to buy an expensive bottle of wine!"
I couldn't do that. But that wouldn't stop my wife and her brother. They are their mother's children and full of mischief. Especially when they get a little wine in them.
They decided to order the nice wine recommended by the restaurant's sommelier. It was a good pick. The meal was one of our most memorable ever.
We’ve enjoyed a few bottles of E. Guigal’s Cotes du Rhone since then. We even shared a bottle of the Cotes du Rhone with our friend Darren in Dublin. Unlike the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Cotes du Rhone is readily available.
Truth is we don’t know a lot about French wine, but searching for this Moby Dick of wines gave me a reason to go into the French section of wine shops. It made me feel sophisticated. I could keep up the illusion as long as the conversation didn't go past this particular wine. Alas, I continued to strike out.
Then, last December, I finally found it. In BevMo of all places.
We were driving to Houston to spend Christmas with Sally’s family a few days later. We bought a bottle with us to share with Greg and Jennifer and Sally’s Mom, Mabeth.
Note: Don't despair if you don't know too much about Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It refers to a variety of wines from the appellation by the same name in France's southern Rhone region. There are thirteen varietals of grapes that can be blended to make this wine, but Granache is the most popular. The E. Guigal website lists their version as 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% "others". How mysterious.