I remember, long ago, my parents sitting around our dining room table with their friends, crystal stemware glowing from within like bowls full of rubies in the warmth of candlelight. Their hushed tones as they told "grown up" jokes dissolved into laughter that permeated the house and made me long to be a part of these dinners.
Somewhere along the line, wine became, for me, a symbolic representation of those dinners.
Fast forward 10 years, and I'm a sophomore in college. I have a date with a guy I really like, and I want to show him how worldly, how sophisticated I am. I buy my first set of wine glasses from Crate & Barrel, and that signature white box is a trophy I carry home with me on the Metro.
I make us dinner - spaghetti with marinara sauce I doctor up from a jar of Prego. I make garlic bread. And I serve Franzia White Grenache, which I somehow think is a step up from the ubiquitous White Zinfandel. Of course, I can't tell the difference. But the guy is impressed, as are his buddy and the buddy's girlfriend (the four of us have squeezed into the round table in my studio that's meant to seat three). We sit and chat and laugh for hours, until it's time to say "goodnight".
That was the first time I managed to successfully recreate my parents' dinners in my own home. But it wouldn't be the last; rather, that dinner became the start of my life as a hostess. And, subconsciously, the start of my thirst for knowledge about wine.