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Wine Under the Moon
Realizing you just had a really good moment
Twice in the last few days, my wife and I have sat with friends around the table in our backyard garden, sharing good cheese and olives, a little pasta, and plenty of wine. The nights were mild, star-lit and draped in a half-moon. This is not an uncommon experience for us in the summer months. But it’s certainly not a regular one. These times come infrequently enough to know how special they are.
There are few things as wonderful as sharing wine with friends. They bring a bottle, you supply another. The evening light turns mellow and golden, and soon you’re under an inky sky, as the moon peeks out from behind the high branches of the trees. It is then that you realize that this is what matters.
Wine and night air combine to offer a half-drunk loveliness. It’s a collective beauty that only can be understood in the moment. Anthony Bourdain said of such times: “(This is when) you understand how lucky you are; it’s a story you can’t tell. It’s a story almost by definition you can’t share.” Meaning, it’s impossible to create. It must instead evolve—it must simply . . . happen.
I read an article in a wine review publication not long ago in which the writer recalled a “fabulous older lady who confessed that the reason she served her guests wine was so they stayed longer and talked more.” Hopefully, they stayed well beyond sundown and talked for hours under the moon.
These moments have little to do with the wine, of course, for the drink is only the elixir. The wine does not have to be grand or expensive. What makes the wine perfect is the stories it produces. It’s the sharing that matters. Combine this with the night sky and you have the ingredients to fully live in the present, and by doing just that, you make the past memorable. Beer cannot do this. Liquor cannot do this. Only wine, only it reveals the mysteries of the shared human capacity for emotion.
Virginia Woolf wrote, “Language is wine upon the lips.” She was certainly celebrating both words and wine in this quote. The two go together. They’re inseparable. In many ways this is what Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast is all about. Wine, he wrote, “was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.”
When I consider so many of the times I have shared wine with friends and the people I love, I am never disappointed. The memories evoke an enlightenment of the spirit. Memories that are both warm and delightful, shared times that are like dreaming with your eyes open.
On one of those recent nights under the stars, the empty wine bottle on the table, we together realized the late hour it had become. We laughed and spoke of our obligations for tomorrow. But we never regretted any of it. Not once. Pledging, only, to do it again.
“Now is the time for drinking, now is the time to dance footloose upon the earth.” —Horace