A look at the place food and drink play in our memories and the right drink for each occasion.
It is a part of any man's memory. It is one of those defining moments. The story begins with a twelve year old boy and ends with said boy becoming a man, if only in his own eyes. As for my saga, I had been sitting across the table from my father in a finer Japanese restaurant. My mother, sister and grandparents were also there but they were only incidental to this story, for it was on this occasion that my father, a man whom rarely, if ever, had seemed pleased with my rather childish antics up to that point, chose to treat me as a man.
The meal was finished and our waiter had brought over a desert wine, perhaps a plum wine, and placed two in front of my father yet only one in front of each of our other adult guests. My natural curiosity begged me to ask why he had received two, to which he replied, "One is for you, if I want you to have it” then a pause. “Want it?" he continued.
"OK, I guess" I shrugged in a childish attempt to look nonchalant, though inwardly, excitement was brimming over.
It was one of those forgettable exchanges to everyone else in attendance that evening and without question a meaningless event in the unfolding fabric of our universe. To me, however, it was in that moment as I drank a very sweet desert wine which was lacking even enough alcohol to affect my tiny twelve year old frame that my evolution to manhood took a giant leap forward.
So it is with many of our memories. Living life to its fullest can many times be found in the props of life. It can be a fine malt, a long cigar and pleasant company or a big turkey complete with all the trimmings and a very large helping of love in the room; perhaps even a champagne toast, a dimly lit room, the bonding over a perfectly developed meal and a proposal of marriage.
Irregardless of the moment, these instances are often seared in our memories as perfection. Most of the time these props we used were not merely secondary to the event; instead they not only made the moment ideal, they may have even enabled the making of the moment through the mere courage or joy we received as we held those props in hand.
So it begs the question what is the ideal meal, the perfect drink, the flawless prop for that special occasion? Well, for the sake of time let's stick with the drinks:
The First Date: If you choose to have a mixed drink to unwind, maybe untie the tongue before the meal, then go ahead; however, you are best to stick with wine during the meal. Show her you know how to match the right wine with the right meal without being anal about the rules. A quick way to save most any meal is to remember that a sauvignon blanc goes great with chicken or seafood and cabernet sauvignon is perfect for beef. If you choose to be more adventurous, then simply ask your sommelier (the guy at the restaurant who knows all the information that you do not know about the wines) after all he's there to help you and has no desire to make you look stupid in front of that special someone. He is a man or woman who loves wine or he would not be there and asking his opinion will show your humility and that you are the kind of man who has no trouble asking for directions (this is huge in a woman’s eyes, by the way). He will have a pick for anything, whether it's Asian or Thanksgiving turkey, there's a great wine for the meal and he's sure to help you find it. Speaking of adventurous, desert should be a must. No slouch in romancing a woman, Casanova provided an eight course meal, all designed with decadence in mind. So think chocolate, think decadent, think of indulgence that prompts your date to indulge after the meal.
The Football Game with the Guys: Looking for a way to upscale the regular guys night out and introducing a wine to the event will get your butt thrown out on the front lawn? Then consider broadening your guests’ palates with import beers. There is a lot more variety than Heineken out there and the guys are liable to enjoy a twist to the old favorite without fear of losing their ever so guarded masculinity. From pale ale to a British porter, the types and regions they come from are boundless. You can get beers so unique in taste that they could hardly be called a beer but still familiar enough to keep the mood of the setting.
The Celebration: Champagne. It is cliché granted, but some things have been around forever for a reason. It is bubbly, it is fun and if the mood dictates the cork can be sent flying across the room in the excitement of the evening. Pink champagne is a big hit with the ladies and ever since the movie Pretty Woman was seen by most the world’s female population, just add some fresh strawberries and you can't go wrong. Also, a bit of knowledge to impress the ladies: it is not truly champagne but sparkling wine, no matter what the bottle says. Unless it comes from the champagne region of France then it is undeserving of the moniker.
The Business Dinner: More so than any other event, though this same advice may prove true for meeting the in-laws, let your guest dictate the night. If your boss is a beer and chips man, then by all means, go beer and chips; furthermore, if he wants a whiskey neat then order the same or something equivalent to suit your taste. One word of caution, though: always under drink the powers-that-be. Whether he has wine and sticks to half the glass or drinks more than Dean Martin on a bender, stay a few drinks behind him. You will appear level headed and make no major slip-ups you will regret without appearing to be condescending to the man who signs your checks. A bit of a secret from none other than the chairman of the board: Frank Sinatra used to order many drinks but as he walked around he would “forgetfully” set them down in the corner of a room. Thus he was seen to be ordering many drinks but always had a clear head about him.
Follow these simple bits of advice, adjusting them to you unique circumstances and you are likely to have the perfect memories to last long after the event has faded from existence.
© Copyright 2005 by T. James Musler