Wine ties us together in so many ways–we never forget the special bottles we’ve shared with friends and family. The wine becomes the anchor that binds us to the memory, and most importantly, to those with whom we shared it. On my 40th birthday, friends had given my first bottle of Dom Perignon to pop on the limo ride to dinner. I saved the empty bottle and wrote the names of everyone drinking in the limo. The bottle sat very lonely by itself for a few years and then, as we were introduced to some spectacular wines, it became a tradition to write something on the bottles we opened for holidays. Almost 9 years have passed, and looking at the ersatz guest book that adorns the rows of wine bottles in my dining room is a tangible reminder of the food and wine I’ve shared with those I love and, especially my dad, whom I’ve lost.

Growing up, there was never any debate about what to open with dinner–Budweiser went everything. As my dad aged, he gave up beer for a glass of wine at night. He knew when the drugstore put their boxed wine on clearance and stocked up quarterly. Instead of barrels in the cellar, my parents had boxes of wine in their dining room that they used to refill their wine bottle, which was always kept in the fridge. Frugality was how he selected his wine while I blithely ignore how much our wine costs by thinking about how much money I save by not paying a restaurant’s triple markup, and yet we shared an affinity for the same Napa cabs. I look at a bottle of Constant from Christmas 2014 and, clear as day, I can remember my dad taking a drink and saying, “this is good wine.”

I see wine bottles that we’ve shared with couples that are no longer together, which saddens me, but then I see more recent bottles with a new name paired with the old to remind me that love always finds a way. The names of our best friends are on many bottles, and I’m grateful for all those holidays we shared as two families growing up together. I know I can look forward to sharing more food and wine with them and as our children’s names have started to be added to the lists, we’re going to need a lot more bottles.

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