Wine & Poses

Editor Rick Broussard

Photo by John Hession

I'm not what you'd call an oenophile. I usually shop for wine by looking on the ten dollar shelf and seeking out those "$2 off" collar tags. But, like most people, I've had a few memorable encounters with a bottle of wine.

Nothing as impressive as the time when Chase Bailey, the former Cisco executive, now Portsmouth-based filmmaker and bon vivant, bought a bottle of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet for $500,000 (at a charity auction). It was reported to be the most expensive single bottle of wine ever purchased at the time. For what it's worth, it was a very large bottle of wine. And Bailey, who is a true oenophile and a gentleman, is also a very classy guy to turn right around and serve it to a group of friends at the 100 Club.

My most memorable encounter takes place somewhere at the lower end of the wine spectrum. Back in the 1970s, when the drinking age in Florida (where I lived) was 18, the average teenage wine drinker would usually purchase Boone's Farm wines for their soft fruity flavors. My friends and I had more sophisticated palates, so we went for the drier and more complex flavors of Ripple.

One of my best buddies had been drafted to Vietnam. We corresponded regularly and he liked to reminisce about times we spent at the cove with a fishing pole and a bottle of Ripple chilling in the brackish bay water. On an impulse, perhaps to give him something to look forward to, I went out and bought a bottle of our favorite variety (Red) and promised to keep it aging on a shelf until he returned. He was delighted and he mentioned that bottle in just about every letter from that point on.

One night, that delightful vessel of crimson nectar was needed for more pressing and immediate purposes. After all, the only thing gained by aging a bottle of Ripple is a coating of dust, and once it was drained I dutifully went out and scored a new bottle to replace it. And all was well until my friend actually returned. Being my guileless self, I confessed to the switch and was surprised to see that he was visibly saddened. The long-awaited bottle was consumed, but with less gusto than I had expected.

Like any great symbol, wine is one of those things that is more than it seems. Even in its most humble condition, it is infused with ceremonial spirits of fellowship.

So this issue's tour of excellent, award-winning wineries is more than just a story. As our vineyards increase and invite tourists and locals to taste the fruits of our state, it's a reminder that life in New Hampshire is more than it seems. It's an invitation to appreciate the rich blend of community and nature that has been aging here for hundreds of years and is now ready to uncork.

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