I have lived alongside wine drinkers and winemakers.
My Great Grandfather was a champagne grape grower in Sicily toiling for the landlord. Although he did not farm in America, he did have a barrel in his basement. He made wine for home and bartering purposes. I have vague memories of my Great Grandfather. The aroma of fermenting grapes remained in the basement many years after his death.
Uncle Frank made wine in his home. My cousin, Sal, at 17, would take the shop’s truck with Uncle Frank to the Brooklyn Terminal Market. Uncle Frank would take a bunch of grapes out of a case and taste test. If he didn’t like the grapes, he would put them back. Uncle Frank bought red and white Moscato grapes. Sal would load at least one hundred cases into the truck and drive to Uncle Frank’s house on Long Island.
Uncle Frank’s house smelled like wine. You could feel drunk just by breathing the air. He had four-55 gallon barrels in his screened porch where he pressed 200 gallons of a rosè blend. Uncle Frank bottled his way and believed aging should be measured in short months rather than long years. He always brought a bottle or two of wine to family parties. I remember the powerful drink and rough aftertaste. My mom used it as vinegar.
When Matt and I were college students in Buffalo, New York, a family friend would invite us to their home for a Sunday afternoon. Rusty and Priss offered us much needed respite from stressful weeks. Rusty had a small vineyard on his property. The long rows of vines had to be nurtured during the short summers and harvested before October’s frost. He had to add pounds of sugar to compensate for the sour grapes. Rusty’s wine was very sweet with a sugary grit finish.
I live on Long Island. For over forty years, the wine industry has boomed on the south and north forks. Wine tasting day trips make for a great day of vintage veneration. I am not a sommelier, but I have learned to appreciate a mid-priced aromatic wine with a flavorful finish.
My parents think I am a bit of a snob when it comes to wine. They are satisfied with box wines that are priced just right and convenient. Box wines can be brought onto boats and easily packed for picnics without having to worry about glass bottles and a corkscrew. However, I cannot get past the polyurethane finish.
Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’ kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure. If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk. Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.