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The “Youngstown” Sommelier

……..So a couple of weeks ago, I’m up in Napa with my lady, and a couple of friends, Joe and Jen, and we’re visiting various wineries. We went to some of the obvious ones, Robert Mondavi, Sterling Vineyards, The Beaulieu Vineyard (BV), and the famous Chateau Montelena – made famous, by the critically acclaimed, little seen movie, “Bottle Shock.” We sippeda variety of wines they put in front of us, then finally, their award winning 1973 Chardonnay that was featured in the movie, and the one that made the winery famous. It’s famous because, in 1976, at the prestigious Paris Tasting, their Chardonnay was voted the best in competition. This was first time in history that a California wine won this popular event. It was a good old-fashioned American ass whipping!  And I could see why! It tasted like butter, with silky smooth hints of sweetness. Now, tell me I don’t sound like a wine connoisseur! Either that or I’m full of shit!

I’m drinking like I’m “going to the chair.” My man Joe, who is a wonderful wine maker, who studied the art in France, and is as knowledgeable as
anyone I know about wines, is swirling the wine and spitting it out. I know that wine “sophisticates” do that, but I was appalled at his behavior. Who in their right mind, is going to spit out such a delectable experience? Joey from Youngstown suddenly became, “Joseph the Connoisseur,” child of the “world of wine!”

As we were pairing different wines with different cheeses, and I’m getting  my shine on, I’m acting like I know what I’m doing, acting like a real wine snob, like a “menefreghisto” (that’s Sicilian for someone who “doesn’t give a shit”). I found myself looking around at the beautiful scenery: the rolling hills, the blue skies, and beautiful vineyards that went on as far as I could see. And as I was doing this, I was transplanted to a different place. I was transplanted back to Youngstown, sitting on the grass in Mill Creek Park, sitting there drinking wine, eating cheese and fruit and letting the world go by. The power of the mind is as strong a tool as we have. It can take us to wherever we want to go, or choose to be. And for that moment, I chose to be back home, back home on the Southside of Youngstown ……..!