Drink No Wine Before IT’S Time

There’s a certain ritual that seems have played out somewhat consistently over the course of my adult life that began during my college years and continues to this day: The good friend arriving relatively late in the evening at your home for a stay and the subsequent (and immediate) kitchen table sit-down right then and there upon their arrival to catch up before any sleep is had.

It’s not as though the immediate sit-down couldn’t wait until the morning when the guest is refreshed. It could. But the combination of instinctual hospitality as well as the joy in seeing them prevents you from waiting. It must happen now. There is something very intimate about catching up with that old friend who knows so much about you and whom you’ve not laid eyes on for some time, sitting in front of you late at night when everything is quiet and dark.

For the last 20 years that ritual has almost always been accompanied by the cracking open of wine. And almost always the guest likes wine and knows I am in the wine industry. That means they have expectations that the wine they will drink in your presence will be something better than they are used to consuming. When it’s 11pm and a good friend who you love is in the house, you don’t want to let them down.

Last night a very dear friend of Ginny’s (Terry) arrived and set this ritual in motion. While one of the greatest problems with wine is that there is just too damn much of it that it can be confusing for the average sipper, that diversity is also what gives us who have wine on the brain one of our greatest pleasures: trying to pick just the right wine for a specific occasion.

The point, which I’m slowly getting too, is that those of us with a wine-infused brain can turn almost any set of events into an occasion that calls for just the right wine.

-Finally finished setting up that brand new 52 inch flat screen TV? This calls for a BIG California Chard.

-Your child finally took their first steps? Where’s the Prosecco?

-Finished that report for the new CFO? Then it’s time to crack open that German Riesling you’ve been chilling

-The SF Giants finally win the World Series? Then it’s time to….Oh, there is no wine that could be drunk to truly celebrate such a turn of events.

This of course begs the question, did Orson Wells mean that he shall "Drink no wine before ITS time" or that he shall "Drink no Wine before IT’S time".

The ultimate point here is that this choosing of just the right wine to drink for a specific occasion is one more way wine lovers turn their obsession into a cerebral endeavor, which I argue wine drinking is for anyone who believes there is such a thing as the right wine for the right time.

I choose Old Vine Russian River Valley Zinfandel from the 2002 vintage. Not only was it fat and juice and peppery, it had the added benefit of being a sleep aid with its 16% alcohol content.


8 Responses

  1. Benjamin Saltzman - February 4, 2008

    Oh, what fun it is to choose a wine. You are absolutely right in pointing out the temporality involved in deciding on a bottle of wine for a specific occassion. The best bottles of wine, I have found, are consumed at the(ir) right time. That is, they are consumed at the perfect moment between the right event and their right age.
    – Ben Saltzman
    Wine Reviews at Chateau Petrogasm

  2. Mark Fisher - February 5, 2008

    Tom: I think what ol’ Orson actually said was, “We shall serve no wine before its time.” And I’ve always believed that ad — for those of us with enough rings in our trunks to have seen it first-hand — set back the cause of promoting wine to the masses by a few decades or so. Man, could that dude INTIMIDATE. That look, the voice … made want to go grab a beer, not run out and buy a chardonnay. I mean, who’d want to serve a wine before its time and risk that guy’s wrath?
    Thankfully, that feeling wore off. Cheers!
    Mark Fisher

  3. Mark Koppen - February 5, 2008

    Wow, just seeing Orson makes me want to pop the lid off that last carafe of PM I’ve been saving for all these years…it MUST be time by now!
    Tom, you make a good point in that since the days of those commercials, we as consumers have turned that concept on its ear – WE decide what to drink and when, depending on what WE feel like drinking – not what any “expert” tells us.

  4. Jerry Murray - February 5, 2008

    Based on what I have read on your Blog previously I would have to conclude that you didn’t care much for Terry, as you broke out the 16% alcohol monster for the occaison. Or am I to infer that there IS a place and time for such a wine after all? Or do you, like myself, have a seperate stash with the title of ” Wines I want to push off on someone else “?
    Jerry D. Murray

  5. SteveP - February 5, 2008

    Great article. I know I love to share a good wine with freinds no matter the time of day or night.

  6. Tom Wark - February 5, 2008

    I wanted a unique wine. The Old Vine Zin I pulled was from a pretty cool little vineyard. In fact I didn’t event look at the alcohol level until I got up off the ground from having passed out.

  7. Dale Cruse - February 5, 2008

    As long as the friend is good and the conversation honest, almost any decent bottle will do, IMO! Spread the Thunder! http://tv.winelibrary.com

  8. Jeff Burris - April 3, 2010

    I thought for sure he’s just saying he won’t drink any wine that hasn’t fermented long enough, upon which time the wine has reached “its time” (not referring whether or not “it is time” to drink it yet, today), suggesting the brand in the commercial hasn’t been rushed in production.

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