When circumstances force me to take a bite out of a shit sandwich (blessedly, only figuratively), my rote response is “yeah, but ain’t life grand?” As the late, seriously great Manuel Maloof (left), owner of my favorite bar in the world, was wont to say, “Anybody don’t like this life is crazy.”
Yet while I’m very positive about life, I tend to be cynical about people. There’s a buttload of selfishness and stupidity out there “” but also a whole lotta good, and wine seems to play a part in quite a few worthy deeds, including my favorite moment of 2011.
Last spring, I got an email from a Minnesota woman seeking some wine advice. She was a casual wine drinker (Marietta Old Vine) and knew little about the spendier stuff. She wanted to buy a magnum or two regular bottles of Jordan cabernet but wasn’t sure about the vintage or bottle size or whether to decant.
Standard questions, except: The wine was to be consumed on the anniversary of her son’s death. He had died unexpectedly four years earlier at age 26. His name was Jordan.
Now it so happens that I had gotten to know a wonderful woman at Jordan, communications director Lisa Mattson. So I passed along the email and asked which vintage and bottle size this woman should seek out.
I work at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg, and Bill Ward of the Star Tribune contacted me with your question about which Jordan vintage and format to buy.
Your story moved all of us. We are honored you would celebrate Jordan’s life with a bottle of our wine. John Jordan would like to give you a magnum of the 2002 vintage from our cellar.
Pass the Kleenex, please. Which also came in handy a couple of weeks later when this popped into my in-box:
I just wanted to let you know what a nice day my family and I had together. The 2002 magnum of Jordan cabernet arrived. John Jordan also sent a very thoughtful personal handwritten note.
We were all moved by the generosity of all the people involved. Your compassion was very touching and I appreciate it more than I can put into words.
This bittersweet day was more meaningful to us, not only by the wonderful bottle of wine – it was perfect, but by the kindnesses of strangers.
With deep gratitude …
Yes, it’s just a bottle of wine, and yes, a cynic might call this a great PR move. If so, mission accomplished, as I have ordered Jordan’s wines in a restaurant since then, and will continue to do so on occasion, and not just because they’re really tasty.
There’s something uncommonly personal about wine, a connective tissue that bonds us in life and beyond.
A few years ago, our daughter-in-law Karen’s father died suddenly. He was a fabulous guy who loved red wine, especially from his adopted home of Mendocino County. Since then, Karen and Fred have kept “his” wine glass on a shelf in their dining area, and often will pour some wine into it for her dear departed dad.
It’s a fitting and beautiful tribute, and in the process our grand-daughter Zuzu has learned a wonderful way to connect with, and honor, loved ones who have moved on.