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Monday
Feb012010

Table + Wine = New friends

When friends come to Napa, we almost always go wine tasting. Chappellet was our destination this time, and the only thing more striking than the views of Lake Hennesey was that special alchemy of friends and wine around a table.

In 1973 the Vietnam Peace Accords were famously delayed because they couldn't agree on the shape of the table around which they would negotiate. I can't imagine delaying world peace because you don't like the table, but at Chappellet, the table did make the experience.
As we ended our tour outside the grounds and inside the barrel room we turned a corner to see a pretty table set for 12. We had been invited to introduce ourselves at the beginning of the tour but it wasn't till we were sitting around the table that we became friends. 
We couldn't have been a more diverse group. There was a couple and their adult daughter from Canada, a liquor distributor and his wife from Miami, a professional football player from Dallas (that's all I'm saying, he seemed to value his privacy), and my friends from LA, Denver and Melbourne, Florida. 
We were all ages, colors, shapes and sizes. 
Thirty minutes after sitting down and sharing wine, we knew each other in the way you sometimes get to know a seat mate on a plane - not well but better than many of the people you've worked with for years.  We heard the story of how the football player fell in love with his wife, about the "cougar" who was dating the son of the Miami couple, and how my friend finally has three-year-old triplets after years of trying. 
I used to believe that alcohol was alcohol, whether it was a shot of Jack or four ounce glass of wine. But now I believe that there is a magic, an alchemy, a connection to years of tradition and fond memories that occur when wine is sipped around a table.
With food it's even better.
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