It's not unusual for a regular to stop in for a bottle just before we call it a day, usually someone in the neighborhood looking for a last minute dinner recommendation or something to blow off steam after a bad week at the office. "What goes with Alaskan halibut!" they cry, plastic bags from the market swinging about on their wrists as they rush around the store gathering the rest of their ingredients.
We'll then take a moment to discuss the finer details of their menu, "What kind of a sauce will it have? Will you be serving anything else with it?" so I can fine tune my recommendation & envision the flavors of their meal. Next I scan our shelves, mentally retasting the wines we have for a perfect match. Pairing is the ultimate Proustian act as you need to gather all your senses & go back into your own memory vault to play virtual sommelier & chef when evaluating the composition of ingredients...
Recommending wine for regulars, on the other hand, is an intimate relationship you form as you get to sit down at an imaginary dinner table with your customers & get to know all the likes & dislikes of what pleases their palates. That being said, t's no surprise I love my job, being both poet & sensualist!
So tonight when one of my favorite customers walked in at quarter 'til & started browsing the front stacks, I stood at attention, while her two beautiful children held their quarters tightly to invest in some Chupa Chups (Spanish lollipops that is..) at the register. I was prepared to give my best $6.99 recommendation as budget is a consideration for a single mum, but she surprised me by bringing a $20 wine to the counter. "Is this as amazing as it sounds?" she asked earnestly. "I have a special dinner that it's for."
Envisioning a new budding romance, I was prepared to agree with her choice, but wanted to know what was going on the table or if this was a wine for seduction. Occasionally I am called upon as a wine doctor, or a love sorceress ala "Like Water for Chocolate".
"I have no idea what they're serving, but I need a wine that's inspirational, that gives hope," she offered. "My friend has a very aggressive breast cancer & is getting a double masectomy tomorrow. She has two young children," and with that I fell silent for a moment. My mind & heart went racing amongst all the bottles, all the wines that I've tasted over the last four years... "Do you have a minute?" I wondered aloud. "If you do," was her answer.
After looking at all our wines so as to miss nothing, I picked out something stored in my memory bank as absolutely delicious & inspirational, gave a discount that made it $20, & teared up as she walked out the door. So tonight, I hope that I have done my job well--I always wonder... But most importantly, I wish good health & happiness for this young woman. That would be the happiest end to this story, & the one that I hope to hear...
Did you know that clicking daily on the Breast Cancer Site raises funds?
Your click on the "Fund Free Mammograms" button helps fund free mammograms, paid for by site sponsors whose ads appear after you click and provided to women in need through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation to low-income, inner-city and minority women, whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited. Do it!!!