By the time you read this, I will be another year old. I won’t share my age, but it’s a milestone birthday. Time to pop vintage Champagne.
Like every new beginning or ending, birthdays are an opportunity to reflect on where you are and where you’re going.
By American standards, I live a simple life. I live in a two-bedroom apartment, drive a ten-year-old car, and hunt for designer discount clothing. However, If the number of good friends was an asset and could be added to my balance sheet, I would grace the cover of magazines like Fortune, The Robb Report, and Black Enterprise.
I feel loved every day.
Every day, I unfailingly wake up to a text message from my mother. Her most recent: “Good morning, Princess, you are so special.” Daily wellness checks came in from friends:
“How are you?”
“What do you need?”
and, “How’s your business?”
During the bleakest days of the pandemic, I received cases of wine from friends and clients. A friend and her husband even dropped off fried chicken. Fried chicken and Blanc de Blanc Champagne are an expression of love.
Where the wine comes in
I share this not to brag, but to explain this overwhelming sense of gratitude I feel as I look back on the past decades. Remembering the highs and lows of my life, an abundance of love has been a constant theme. And I have found unique and romantic ways to show my gratitude to the people who show me love. In my 20s and 30s, I did it through poetry — I published a book of love poems for friends and family.
Today my most dominant love language is wine. Like poetry, wine has many moods and can express complex feelings. I honored some friends who held me up during the pandemic by hosting a dinner where each wine was paired with a friend’s personality. The evening began with me telling the story of why each wine captured their essence.
Here are 5 of the wines I chose, and why:
Piper-Heidsieck Rare Brut Millesime 2008 (~$188)
In every group of overachieving, highly successful friends there comes a time when an individual light shines. In 2021, a good friend’s business hit its stride. After two decades of experiencing the ups and downs of building an empire, 2021 brought high-profile clients and prestigious awards. His hard work, dedication, and shine deserve to be paired with the 2008 Piper-Heidsieck Rare Brut Millesime. Vintage is only declared in the Champagne region in the most exceptional years, so nothing says, “Mama, I made it,” like this exquisite, fresh, mineral-forward wine.
2019 Maison Noir Oregogne Chardonnay (~$40)
Among my tribe is a dynamic woman who appears shy and is often underestimated. However, when she unleashes her genius, the world takes notice. Nothing says, “I see you,” like Chardonnay. Chardonnay is one of the most misunderstood and underrated wine varieties. Because of its chameleon-like ability to take on many forms — from fruity and light to big and oaky — many consumers give up after trying one style that does not please their palate. For winemakers, however, Chardonnay is a friend indeed, allowing the winemaker to express her true self and be creative. The 2019 Maison Noir Oregogne Chardonnay is beautiful and expressive with its crisp palate, minerality, and flavors of yellow fruit like lemon, pears, and apples. This wine is balanced and will earn your respect.
Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Riesling Mosel 2020 (~$12)
For my friend, the attorney and community activist, I chose Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. The wine is a respite from my friend’s intense, high-pressure calling. This delicate, off-dry wine with calming tropical fruit and invigorating acidity elicits visions of brighter days. He is a true lover of semi-sweet German Rieslings because, as he often says, “Life can be bitter. I prefer to drink sweet wines.”
Day Wines Vin de Days Rouge Natural 2019 (~$27)
This unique red blend of Pinot Noir (83%), Meunier (13%), and Pinot Gris (4%) from Oregon is bursting with flavors of tart cherries and raspberries. This wine is fruity, lively, and unexpected, making it a perfect pairing for my friend who marches to her own beat. She is creative in the way she dresses and solves problems, and she is unapologetically different. Like this wine, she is a breath of fresh air.
The Vice Stag’s Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 (~$55)
This wine has a big personality and so I paired it with my larger-than-life friend. She works hard to afford the finer things in life, from five-star hotels to designer everything, and yes, she wears “jewelry to the bodega.” The wine is a classic Stag’s Leap Cabernet, being decadent, rich, and polished. A perfect soulmate for a woman working towards the finer things in life.