1998 Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon
“Can I get you a glass of wine, honey?”
My father-in-law, bottle in hand, asks this question as soon as hugs and kisses are exchanged upon arrival. Within moments, the wine is flowing into small glass goblets passed down from previous generations. The family gathers round, and stories from the past and present are told late into the night. An abundance of food appears and laughs are had until all are ready to pass into a pleasant slumber.
Whenever we would visit the family, the scene described above would occur. The wine offered was nothing that would be termed particularly special or expensive. My glass would be refilled before I would even realize it was close to empty. And every time, love and laughter would surround me.
But wait, you’re thinking, you can’t have a wine epiphany over a common table wine! Surely you’ve had finer wines that have spoken to you, drawn you in, shown you the way to wine righteousness? I’ve definitely had ‘wow’ moments with some extraordinary wines; however if I’m honest, my first real wine moment came with the experience of sharing a simple bottle of 1993 Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon with the unbelievable folks that would become my in-laws.
They paid maybe $8.00 for this bottle. During the evening, no one tried to decipher the aroma for hints of this or that or held it up against a white background to determine the color. Tasting notes were not compared. The wine was just enjoyed. The wine was probably not all that good, although by now I don’t remember the exact particulars and didn’t take any notes.
According to Decanter’s vintage guide for 1993 California Cabernet Sauvignon, rain fell during the blooming period in May leading to smaller crops. Ripening was slow due to alternating hot and cool weather. The weather heated up in late August sending sugar levels up, although some producers picked too early, resulting in Cabernets that lacked ripe fruit. Others were overly tannic. It was 1995 when I first visited my in-laws, and we consumed a fair amount of 1993 California Cabernets, which covered the range from dull to tannic. As casual wine consumers, I’m not sure we really noticed.
Today when visiting my in-laws, the same tradition continues. There usually aren’t any famous labels or expensive wines present, but it’s really not about that. Sure, the range of choices and quality of the wines has increased over the years. We talk more about the wine, noticing its smells and flavors, comparing against others we’ve shared and giving recommendations to each other.
I’ve enjoyed becoming more knowledgeable about wine and in the end I’ve come to realize that sharing a bottle of wine, whatever it is, with those you hold most dear in life is one of the best ways to spend an evening. And that realization is what made me really love wine.
Marie Payton writes for The Life of Vines. She enjoys continually learning about wine and is up for trying just about anything! Secretly envious of those who get to be in the fields, she loves to visit vineyards and talk to winemakers.