In honor of Mother’s Day, I think back to a special wine event my mom and I attended. It was summer of 2007, just a few months after I’d relocated from Washington, DC to South Florida. Needless to say the transition was a bit tough, and building a new life in a new place where you don’t know anyone can be a challenge, especially after 40. But I was committed to the change (and winters without snow) so off I went. I remember my mom saying to me at the time I broached the idea with her, “Well honey, you are my one child who decides to do something and then just goes ahead and does it.” While there were many possible interpretations of her comment, I chose to believe she meant I was stubborn enough to go after what I wanted, even if it was difficult.
So, in embracing my new life in my new city, I looked to join social groups that focused on wine and food or the Philadelphia Eagles, my hometown football team. A quick online search led me to the World Famous Parrot Lounge in Ft. Lauderdale, where I could spend my Sundays during football season with fellow Eagle fans. And Meetup gave me plenty of ideas for the food events. But it was the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables that offered the great opportunity to join a group of wine lovers who met for monthly tastings and also participated in wine-pairing dinners at the Palme d’Or, the hotel’s formal dining room. As a member of the Cellar Club, I got preferred pricing and reservations at these amazing wine events, but since I was usually going solo, I tended to opt for the less formal tastings.
My mom had recently retired from her job as a high-school special education teacher and came to visit me for a week. What a time we had! A trip to the Vizcaya Museum in Miami, lunch at Bal Harbor, the Morikami Museum in Boca Raton, the Hollywood Broadwalk – we did it all. But the highlight of our week was a Mediterranean wine dinner at the Palme d’Or. Formal table service by waiters in black tie; crystal chandeliers draping elegantly from the ceiling; entire walls of French doors looking out on the gardens – all together they set the scene for a magnificent evening of wine and food perfection.
Now, my mom and I came to this event with differing perspectives on wine. I at that point was already a certified wine geek who spent way too much time researching grapes and regions and producers. I knew which areas I preferred and why. On the other hand, my mom’s knowledge of wine was limited to whether she liked it or not, and her favorite quaff at the time was made by Carlo Rossi and came in a jug, what she called her “economy wine.” But as it turned out, Mom actually had quite a discerning palate! As the plates arrived and the waiter explained the vinous accompaniments for each, she got into it, looking for the aromas and tastes and coming up with a few more of her own. It was really fun to see her embrace the adventure; it made my own experience all the more enjoyable. We rhapsodized over the exquisite food, amazed even by the artful presentation of the items on the plate. Course after course came and went, and we rolled right along, two girlfriends on a fancy night out, squeezing the most out of a beautiful experience.
I remember what we ate and drank only because I kept the menu card from the table. But I will never forget the unique and lovely girls’ night out I had with my mother, ending with a moonlit drive home late that evening, convertible top down, music on, both of us reliving our favorite parts of the evening.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! And to all the moms out there, savor every bit of your special day.