I've been growing a little bar on my fireplace mantle. For whatever reason, I associated having ingredients to make tasty cocktails when friends visit as an indicator of maturity. So I added the usual suspects to my Christmas List last year, and came away with some new glasses, a shaker, Aperol, St-Germain, and a handful of other necessities.
However, my favorite member of the mini collection is a bottle of wine that has been safely resting in the corner of the crowd for months.
At a cousin's graduation party last summer, a well-off extended family member brought some excess alcohol he wanted to get rid of prior to moving into a new house. I’m from a big family and most of ‘em love a bargain (and a good drink), so it was a mad rush to the stash. The largest bottles of liquor went first, but I held off for the wine I'd spotted, knowing it might very well be some of the best I’d ever had, if I could get my hands on it.
The 1995 Haut-Médoc by Château Sociando-Mallet was mine, all mine. And I couldn’t wait to slowly open it, gently smelling the cork as a sort of amuse-nez, on whatever celebratory occasion was most certainly just around the corner.
Nearly a year later, the bottle lay atop my mantle still, a bit dusty now. And so I decided to cook a croque madame with some quality ham and gruyere I’d recently bought, and open the bottle. After all, I was lucky enough to have just booked another extended work trip to Paris, a weekend trip to Portugal with my sister during that time… hell, why shouldn't that be reason for celebration?
I am coming to relish in these little (and often independent) pleasures. While many are better enjoyed with company, I can’t imagine the wine tasting any more wonderful that it did that night, with my C’est Chic! 1960s yé-yé record playing in the background, as I slowly slipped into premature Paris planning. C'est un peu de magie ça.