Swirl n’ Spit

Swirl n’ Spit

Open the Bottle, Already

By Heather Irwin

Once, on a long-ago romantic vacation to Italy, my ex and I bought an expensive bottle of Limoncello–a sort of lemon-flavored Italian aperitif–to save for our 10th wedding anniversary many years away. Carefully, we wrapped the sunny yellow bottle in sweaters and tissue for the flight home. Each time we moved over the next few years, we’d pack it separately and give it a place of honor in our bar, waiting for the magical day when we’d open it together.

You can probably figure out the ending: we broke up, he got custody of the broken futon, his collection of big-eye art and the Limoncello. I got a child support check, an old mattress and a broken heart. That, after seven years of marriage, was that.

But the legacy of the Limoncello lived on. As friends, we’ve talked about it laughingly, discussing the silly, glowing optimism it represented in our sometimes mismatched marriage. It became this sort of talisman: a bottle of booze that neither of us knew what to do with. We couldn’t drink it, but we didn’t want to just get rid of it. So the happy yellow bottle stood stupidly on his shelf, reminding him of the past. That is, until the day his funds ran low, he was late to a party and, hey, the bottle was just sitting there gathering dust. Why not?

Over a summer barbecue of grilled salmon, potato salad and tofu burgers, the prized Limoncello was dumped into an old pitcher and mixed with strawberry soda and vodka. It’s hard to think about, really, that bottle we’d so carefully saved. But here’s the point: Why did we wait? And what was so special about it, anyway? We’ve all got that bottle or two that sits silently gathering dust in the back of the closet, waiting for that perfect moment that we’ll uncork it and . . . yeah, right. How long has it been sitting there waiting? Five years? Ten? Obviously, fine wines appreciate aging, but I’ve been known to age a $10 bottle way past its prime just out of sentimentality. Forget it.

So, the other night when a friend brought me an expensive bottle of wine, instinct told me to wrap it up tight and put it in the closet for later. Instinct was ignored. I uncorked it without any special plans: no dinner, no proposal, not even any pants. Instead, the Boy and I popped up a big batch of kettle corn, practiced the bass line to “Smoke on the Water” and downed that beautiful bottle of Syrah in our skivvies. It was totally wrong. But as we swirled the glasses around, laughing and tasting everything so fully, it all seemed awfully right.

Great Wines to Open Right Now
Bonny Doon Ca’del Sol Big House Red (under $10)
Robert Hall 2002 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($9.25)
Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc ($15)
Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc, the Deuce (under $20)
Ravenswood Zinfandel (under $20)
Rosenblum Cellars Zinfandel (usually under $20)

From the August 24-30, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

© 2005 Metro Publishing Inc.

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