I remember standing on the balcony of my very first apartment in New York waving to the tourists on the double-decker bus. We had no furniture yet, so our 400 square feet seemed rather spacious, and the balcony? Well two people could stand out there, but I won’t say it was comfortable.
I learned a lot in my five and a half years in New York. I learned to take public transportation, because after you have mastered the New York City subway system, train travel in Europe is easy. I also started drinking wine, and I blame my neighbor for that one. Well, I had always enjoyed wine, with my parents at dinner or in similar situations, but I had never bought it. Part of that was that I had turned 21 just a few months before we moved, and the other part is that we had no money. My neighbor, Steve, was not deterred by the lack of funds.
We met our neighbor, and his lovely dog Amy, when he asked us to take in his mail while he was on vacation. As it turns out, he was vacationing in Key West. It also turns out that Steve owned the wine shop around the corner. One day we went to see him to get some wine for dinner that night at a BYO place nearby. We had no idea what to buy, and we could not spend over $10.
Steve gave us a few options, each in the $5-7 range, one of which was the house wine at Lutece. We chose that one. With our “good neighbor discount” and tax it was about $5 a bottle. It was delicious. For the two years we lived there, and afterwards when we would go downtown from the Upper East Side, we would visit Steve and he would get us the best bargain wines around.
While I wish I had learned more about wine, the nuances, the regions, the grapes, back then, I can honestly say that this experience was the beginning of wine with dinner at our house. “Wine with dinner” has become “making internet wine friends that we travel all over to see” and “obsessively searching out great ones” and “talking about wine until our non-geek friends have glazed over.” And we have a nice neighbor who needed his mail collected to thank.
Next week, we will be trotting off to New York for a few days of eating, drinking and merriment before heading to Long Island for a wedding. Between the wine dinners at Tribeca Grill, Maloney and Porcelli, and lunch at Bouley, I know that we will not be drinking any $5 wines, and that is OK with me. But I do miss the days of walking into the shop, not having to look at anything and having a couple of bottles already on the counter with a wink, and a good neighbor discount. Most of all, I look forward to spending time with great friends, since that is really what drinking great wine is all about: sharing with people that are important.
I will be back with all new posts on the 17th. I will report back on all the fabulous meals, and how my toes survive being stuffed into boots for days on end. You know I am bad at winter. Enjoy your week, and don’t forget to enter the Pet House Candle giveaway!