A "standby" by definition is "one that can always be relied on" or "a favorite or frequent choice." Standbys, whether family, friends or wine are ready when you need them.
I was recently getting ready for an event, and I was running late as usual. It had been a long, stressful day. I needed to look nice for this dinner. I was tired of running around town in my workout pants and my hair in a ponytail with a cap on my head. Lately, I felt like I had thrown in the proverbial towel when it came to my wardrobe and beauty routine. It was time to get a little dressed up and style my hair.
And … what does this have to do with wine? Indulge me if you will …
Making my way to the shower, I pause and make a pitstop for a splash of wine while I get ready. I go to my wine cellar and blindly grab a bottle of red wine from the "everyday, good old standby" section. I popped the cork … no … wait … I quietly extracted the cork; I am a certified sommelier after all.
As I reach for a wine glass, a familiar tune zaps my eardrums; it's the sound of a ringtone: Justin Bieber's "Baby," and I know it's the teenager calling. "Mom, So & So's birthday party is tonight, can I have some money for a present and to pitch in for dinner?" Already frustrated because I am behind schedule, I blurt out, "Didn't I just give you money? Don't you have a job yet?!" The typical teenage bickering begins; but, I tire and acquiesce to the request. "Thanks, Mom! Be right there!" Well, at least there is gratitude.
I pour my Cabernet and proceed to make my way to the shower as I glance to my right and notice the dog, who has been sitting at the other end of the kitchen, is burning a hole through me with his stare. Oh! My brain finally registers that he needs to be fed. I put the glass down on the counter and set a course for the dog food, when … I hear my iPhone chime, alerting me that I have a new text. I retreat back to the phone to view a group text from a buddy about weekend plans. Shouldn't I just step away from the phone and feed the dog? That would be the logical and efficient thing to do. But, alas I must answer all texts at that moment. God forbid I should wait to reply, I could lose my status in the group and be disinvited!
The dog sits patiently, all the while watching me pace back and forth as I rapid fire thumb thrusts and continue my virtual conversation. After a 10-minute text fest of solidifying weekend plans, I return to feed the dog. There … dog now fed … cue the teenager. In she walks along with a few friends. (Teenage girls, they always travel in groups, you know.)
I hand over money to the teenager. She smiles, gives me a big hug and prances off to her room with her friends. My energy is fading as I traipse off to my room to get ready. Too late for a shower now, but I absolutely can not go out with this hair! And my wine! Where is it?! I quickly holler to the teenager, "Bring me that Cabernet and help me fix my hair!" (She may as well do something for the money.) The teenager hops in with my Cabernet and happily helps me curl my hair.
I wave "so-long" as the girls leave for their party, and the house is now quiet. I have a few moments to myself before my husband arrives and we are off to dinner. I sit at the dining room table and sip my Cabernet. I think to myself, "This isn't bad … what is it?" I reach over and spin the bottle around to view the label. Oh, yes, one of the old standbys.
All of us should have a few standbys in our wine collection.
Here are a few "grab without thinking" wines I keep on hand.
Sparkling: Gloria Ferrer non vintage Sonoma Brut. Consistent, appealing, crowd pleaser. Lively minerality, with crisp, apple-pie-like flavors and creamy, but not sweet or mouth coating. A great bargain under $20. Drink alone, as an aperitif or with brie cheese.
White: A good German Riesling is drinkable and very food friendly; it's a very underrated wine. It can be intimidating to understand a German wine label, so here is a website to help:
J. & P. Matheus 2007 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett from the Mosel region is very nice. Don't let that first whiff of petrol and minerals fool you… this has a floral, peachy, apricot nose and flavor. It usually sells for around $25 a bottle. This is nice to drink alone or with some spicy Asian cuisine.
Red: There are many red wines to consider, for now, I'm going to go with the Cabernet I am referring to in this article. A 2008 Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon (from Merryvale Vineyards). This wine is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, but also contains Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. This is not an over-the-top cab, it is medium bodied, with blackberry, plum, sweet tobacco and baking spices; very drinkable. You may have to search a bit, but I found this for under $20. You can probably find these wines and other bargains at our local Artisan Wine Depot.
Wine standbys are great, and friends and family standbys are even better … such as the teenager that you thought could care less but was actually present and in the moment to help. The friends that care enough to make a group text and include you in their weekend plans. The daughters who call just to say "I was thinking of you."
If you think about it, there are a lot of standbys and unsung heroes in our lives. I hope you take the time to notice who they are and appreciate them, it may be the mailperson, web guy, friend, coworker or family. Speaking of unsung heroes, here comes my hubby now to take me out to dinner.
Here's to your standbys and unsung heroes … let's raise a glass to them!