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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wine, friends and food give meaning to life

By Christine Strobel

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The UCLA Bruin Club of Hawaii gets a lesson in bottling at Kaimukď’s Wine the Experience, at HonoluluAdvertiser .com/islandlife

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I'm a wine nut. I know a few things, I love those things, but I'm not going to be all professorial about it. I'd rather celebrate it.

I'll look at the color, clarity and legs, I'll swirl it in the glass to breathe the aroma and try to isolate the afternotes: Cherry? Currant? Chocolate? Dirt — 'scuse me, terroir?

But that's part of the joy of wine. It's not a scorecard.

Besides, if a wine is decent, I'm just as likely to be swayed by a cool label design or funky name. I bought a chard from Napa's Merryvale winery because we were on our way to my Dad's wedding and my stepmother-to-be was named Merry.

And who hasn't picked up at least one bottle of Tait's Ball Buster just 'cause?

That kind of thing might take me out of the running for sommelier. That and a whole mess of training I don't have.

Besides I can't do that swish in your mouth and spit thing. That's wine, not Listerine!

I can credit my Aunt Ribs for stoking my interest in wine. We were out to dinner just after my college graduation and she praised the adventure of a wine list. You can drink wine your whole life and never have had it all, she said, gesturing broadly with her hands, as though breaststroking through a vat of fermented grapes.

Some wines you really shouldn't have, though. They'll scar you.

Like the kind of wine that often gets poured at really big parties. If you're lucky, it's a flavorless white, some unoffending sauvignon blanc with no character. If not, it's a glass of mass-produced cherry-bomb red made rancid from being exposed to heat. Sip, grimace, then look around for an obliging bush to dump it on.

Not that I'm a wine snob. A friend likes to say we're wine brats because we can't afford to be wine snobs.

And it's true. If I had my way, there'd be a stable of Napa cabs, Foxen pinots and this really yummy Italian blend called "I Balzini" circulating through my wine closet (next to the shoes) — and I'd be dead broke.

But no need bust the bank for good wine. If you have a club or big group of friends, go to Wine the Experience in Kaimuki to do a bottling: You can pool your money for a barrel and split the bottles among you.

Or check out the free tastings at HASR Wine Co. downtown. They showcase several under $20 (and even under $10) that are flat-out great. They often do tastings by region — like traveling without leaving home, I say.

A life of good friends, good food and good wine is well lived.