Chicago dad’s advice: Make time to drink good wine

Before children, WIFE and I went to Napa for a wine-tasting trip. We tasted our way around wine country saying things like “ummm I can taste the chocolate in that one” or “we really do need a dessert wine, there are so many things you can do with it.”

After hitting all of the big fancy wineries we found a small out-of-the-way place called Arger Martucci, a winery started by two lawyers named Arger and Martucci. Their tasting room was a garage, with a pool outside that faced west so you could taste wine and enjoy the end of the day in style.

This was the low-pressure kind of place we had been searching for, amazing wine, great people working there and a personal style that made the entire experience, leaving us feeling “fancy.”


At the end of our two-hour stint we had tasted a good amount of wine and spent close to $500 on several bottles. We left with the idea of fancy dinner parties around big tables with friends in cool clothes, who talk about interesting stuff, drinking our magnificent wine. Like a Diane Keaton movie.

The sober reality is we lived in a townhouse with no yard and friends who leaned more towards Two Buck Chuck than a $100 bottle of The Odyssey. So we decided to save the bottles for special occasions.

Here’s the problem: I am very cheap and the thought of a friend or family member leaving a glass half full flipped me out. They were supposed to savor every sip as the sunset and the stinky cheese did their magic to enhance the experience and transport them to Napa in their minds and mouth!

Secondly, despite having three kids, moving into a new house, several birthdays and anniversaries, we always found a reason not to drink the amazing wine: You are still breast feeding; if we drink the whole bottle the baby will be up early and we will feel hung over; it’s only my 40th birthday, not as important as 50; the house is a mess; I can’t find the right glasses; they are our best friends, but what if they leave a glass half full; and on and on and on.

Ten years later, not one bottle had been cracked open. We had talked a lot about it, but never actually enjoyed any of the wine. As a side note, Arger Martucci went out of business, which made me even more reluctant to drink the wine because we may never have it again.

I know I am crazy, save that comment.

Finally, last year when University of Michigan was playing in the NCAA National Championship basketball game, WIFE decided it was the time. She is a University of Michigan graduate and had grown sick of waiting. She came into the rumpus room (I love that word) with a tray of hot wings, an open bottle of The Odyssey and announced, “We are celebrating the Wolverines!”

She had opened a bottle! For college basketball! My first instinct was to freak out, but I calmed down. Why not now? We were together, our kids were healthy and we were in our new house enjoying a great game with “fancy” food.

The Wolverines lost to Louisville, but as we watched, we enjoyed the wine, talked, cheered and realized that it’s the people you are with and the attitude you have that makes a great moment, not how expensive the bottle of wine.

Now instead of waiting for the perfect moment to celebrate, we enjoy the small victories that make each and every day special: sometimes it’s something big and sometimes it’s just making it through another day.

We don’t always celebrate with wine; a hug and a high five are just as effective. When we have the time, yes, we enjoy good wine and if you’re over to enjoy it with us, you better finish the entire glass.


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