Favorite wine memories

May 10, 2013

By Robert Sox
May 9, 2013 


Do you have a favorite wine memory?  If you are into wine at all you probably do.  Beyond the Tuesday night glass or two that goes down without much thought, most of us who have developed some level of appreciation of wine can think of special moments where wine was one of the major components of the memory.  Whether it was an evening with friends or a special someone, a bottle in a foreign country, or a celebration of a life event, it’s one of the reasons that so many people are passionate about wine. 

The social aspects of drinking wine are sometimes as important as the taste and technical details.  Remember that nice evening at your favorite restaurant where the wine continued from one bottle to the next and you hated to call it quits?  It was about the wine, but also about everything else – the people with you, the food, the music, the ambiance.  Even if you paid the price the next morning, the memory of that evening will stay with you forever. 

There’s something about sitting down and sharing wine that is unique.  I have wine memories.  I don’t have iced tea memories.

Wine to me is passion.  It’s family and friends.  It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.  Wine is art.  It’s culture.  It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living.  –Robert Mondavi

June 18th marks the 100th birthday of Robert Mondavi, one of the pivotal figures in the development of the American wine industry.  His words reflect a deep understanding of why so many of us are connected through wine.  Although he is gone, it is comforting to know that his passion has been passed down in his family. 

I was in Napa last summer, and toured the Michael Mondavi Family Vineyards winery.  Halfway through the tour, I asked someone who our tour leader was, and the answer – Rob Mondavi, Jr., the grandson of Robert Mondavi. 

I quickly became more attentive.  At one tasting stop, he told a story of how he came up with the idea for a wine called ‘Spellbound’.   He and his wife had friends over for dinner and he said it was a perfect Napa summer evening.  Is there any other kind, especially if your name is Mondavi?   They had a wonderful meal with good wine and good friends, and then they sat outside, staring up at a beautifully clear Napa sky.  Rob said his wife told him that since they were all so mesmerized by this perfect evening, he should make a wine called ‘Spellbound’.  He did, complete with a label showing a night sky with bright stars.  I’m sure that is an evening they will never forget.

I’m not a Mondavi, but I too have wine memories.  One that still holds the top spot for me is from a solo trip in Venice, Italy. 

Visiting European friends who had to work part of the time I was there, I ventured out with a guidebook for the budget minded and found a restaurant way off the tourist path.  No English spoken, no English menus.  Through useless attempts at words and charades-like pointing, I somehow ended up with a big plate of pasta, vegetables, and a no-label bottle of local red wine, exactly what I would have ordered if I had spoken fluent Italian.  I ate it all and drank it all and it was wonderful.  The adventure of sitting among the locals and drinking their wine puts that bottle near the top of my favorites.  Was it expensive?  No.  Was it the best wine I’ve ever had?  I doubt it, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for a case of $100 bottles.

Life is short.  Drink good wine and make lasting memories.

Robert announced the renaming of his store as of May1, 2013.  He will continue to operate this independently owned store,formerly called WineStyles.  We wish him all the best!

Robert Sox
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Native of Columbia, SC.  Returned to Columbia area in 2004 after being awayfor school and work for 25 years.  Undergraduate degree from Clemsonand MBA from University of NC at Chapel Hill.  Owner of the independently owned Best Bottle Wine and Gifts in Shoppes at Woodhill since 1985.