I started watching Sex and the City this week. Not for the series itself but because I wanted to watch New York. I have a love affair with New York. My heart was broken in New York. I have a need to return to New York to heal this brokenness, but until I make it there… I watch Sex and the City.
So as you probably know, the series is about four New York women struggling with all things to do with sex and relationships and occasionally friendships. It’s a bit retro. There are scenes with the twin towers and all four of them are straight. If it was more contemporary, at least one of them would be a gay woman. Ironically, one of the actresses is a gay woman. Why am I going on and on about this? Oh yes…
I have a mixed bunch of friends here in Cape Town, a city where you’re not supposed to be able to make friends at all. I have tons. So do my friends. And just like the four women from Sex in the City, when life gets tough I reach for my besties, and when I do they always carry me across those stormy waters. And that journey is always accompanied by a particular wine. It’s a ritual. A different ritual with every friend.
My oldest friend in Cape Town is a school friend who I met when I was about 13 years old. We were hooligans as teenagers and nothing has changed. Except now she knows that I’m gay and I know she doesn’t give a damn that I am. That closet door has been in splinters for a long, long time now. So once a week we get together at the Wild Fig near Observatory for girl talk. We always order their house Shiraz and chilli poppers. The house Shiraz apparently is from an estate in Paarl which is one of the black owned wine farms in the area. Why does that matter? It doesn’t. Except perhaps to break the stereotypical notion that wine making is exclusively in the white domain. It’s not. And who cares anyway. The point is – this wine has become the centre point for hours of sharing about family, lovers, work and growing as well as dying dreams. There is a certain comfort that I feel when I think of the Wild Fig house Shiraz. It has become part of our friendship ritual. Without it, my life would be less. (Cue the violins please). I’m labouring the point here, but the wine… and the chilli poppers… they represent part of the glue of my life that keeps me sane.
And just up the road from the Wild Fig and my home is another group of crazy friends. They live in this huge house in Rosebank owned by the most generous person I’ve ever met. Pretty much once a week we get together for a dinner party, which inevitably ends up being an evening of fierce debates and wild dancing. The first time I was invited for dinner and ended up dancing on her dining room table, I felt the need the next day to message the host and apologise for being such a hooligan. What a laugh. I didn’t realise that that is just an average Friday night for them. Now this friend has good taste in everything…friends especially! But also, in food and wine. She can whip up a gourmet meal for twenty people without breaking a sweat. I often find myself staring at the spread and saying, “I’ll never invite anyone to my place for dinner, ever!”
She only drinks one wine though. She has settled on the Haute Cabriere pinot noir and nothing else will do. It’s a truly awesome wine, described as reflecting the feel of a forest floor and with hints of tobacco and truffle. I enjoy a pinot noir in summer, but it’s not for everyone. One party goer bluntly said she didn’t care for it, and when I asked her what wines she preferred, she very confidently said “I don’t have a favourite wine. I either like the wine when I taste it, or I don’t”. We will be good friends! Because, with at least 5000 wines in the Western Cape alone, it seems a shame to limit oneself to just one. How did I come to that figure? Well, upwards of four-hundred and fifty wine farms with possibly more than five wines per farm and then the different vintages. It’s a lot of different wines! Five thousand adventures just waiting to be experienced.
Occasionally someone will bring another wine, but it sits in the cupboard forever. I play around with the Haute Cabriere when I’m there. I’m irreverent like that. She has one of those aerators that are all the rage now. I just love the sound the wine makes as it pours through the aerator. I tend to pour more than I should because of that sound. Uber makes money off me because of that sound. It’s a wonderful gurgling of promise. I love it! And when new people come to dinner I pour them Haute Cabriere through the aerator. They all have the same confused expression when I do and they all ask why I’m doing it. I explain about the aerating of the wine to soften the tannins and how it foregoes the need to let the wine breathe, but actually for me it’s just to hear that gurgling, ssshhhhlurping sound as it swirls through the vortex and into the glass. Evil I know. Especially since one is not supposed to aerate a pinot noir. But wine is an adventure and we make the adventure up as we go along. The joy of wine is not always just in the tasting.
Analize is a different wine friend. With her anything goes! We have tasted wine that she used for cooking and I simply threw down the drain. That’s rare though. Even the dodgiest of wines have something about them that is interesting. And that’s the fun of our wine blog adventure. For us we’re always looking for that wine that will make us go “oh my God!”. And on those days when the wine isn’t all that, we make sure that we’re having fun in some outlandish, and often slightly illegal way.
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