The winner of last month’s ‘Monthly Wine Writing Challenge’ (put on by the Drunken Cyclist), Elizabeth of Travel Wine Chick, picked the word CHOICE for the next theme (#MWWC19). Interesting that she should choose this word. It’s a daily activity in everyone’s life. We continually make choices both large and small, spontaneous and planned. My little tale isn’t so much about wine but an experience in wine country. However, the choice of the wine at the end of my adventure, albeit unplanned, was remarkably fitting.
The trip was in celebration of a marriage milestone. One of those ‘once in a lifetime’ adventures. Months of planning and preparation had gone into it and every activity was carefully chosen. We’d compiled lists of tourist spots, researched various wineries and made notes of significant landmarks. Finally each list was divided into two categories. The first was wineries, tasting rooms and vineyards and the second was well-known restaurants and eateries. A schedule was made for each day to maximize our time with a small margin of flexibility but for the most part we stuck to the plan.
Unfortunately, our last evening was rapidly coming to a close and thus our celebratory weekend. There was one place left to visit on our list of ‘go to’ spots in wine country. It was a famous local tavern. As we walked closer to the landmark destination, loud music grew and filled the area. The outdoor patio was packed with boisterous patrons and several spilled out onto the street. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and it appeared to be the ideal place to wrap up the weekend.
However, maybe it was the late hour or the frenetic pace we’d kept, but the combo of noise, lights and crowd was a bit overwhelming. Dismayed, I turned to my husband. His face reflected my feelings. Our choice for a memorable ending didn’t look particularly appealing. A tiny cloud of anxiety began to form between us. Taking my hand, my husband suggested a short walk down the block to give us a better perspective. The temptation to just leave was strong since all the wine tastings, rich meals and early hours were rapidly taking a toll. But by bailing on the last place would we to miss out on the capstone of our trip? Unfortunately, there seemed to be only two options: go back to the noisy tavern or go home.
While standing on the quiet corner debating what to do, piano music floated seductively out onto the sidewalk. It brought a soothing calm to our spirits. Where was it coming from? A brightly lit door, angled at the corner, beckoned to us. The word ‘methode‘ hung above it. While walking around downtown earlier in the evening, we hadn’t given it any attention. Our goal had been to complete the list.
A quick glance inside revealed a guy playing a white baby grand piano. Next to him was a small area reminiscent of a cozy living room. It had a couch, two chairs and a table. An older couple sat contentedly in the chairs. It looked peaceful and inviting. With the element of time pressing in on us, we needed to figure out what to do and quick. Should we stay? Should we go? Maybe we should try the tavern? In the meantime, the piano music pulled at us. A waitress approached and invited us to come in saying the place was a ‘Bubbles and Bites’ bar. Sparkling wine and appetizers. Dinner was served at tables farther in and a lounge with a bar was in the back for hanging out. As we stood there deliberating, the musician suddenly looked up, smiled, and nodded to the couch next to his bench. That clinched it. We plopped down and ordered glasses of Champagne.
At the end of the extremely enjoyable music set, the piano player picked up his glass of champagne and turned around to ask if there were any requests. The other couple didn’t have one. He turned to us. Surely there was something? A favorite?
Well, maybe. Did he know “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” by Frankie Valli? You guessed it. Our song. He might be able to play it, he said, but it’d be a little rough. The “rough” version of “our song” was lively and touching. It filled the air and danced out the door into the night causing passers-by to pause and listen.
The piano player finished and thanked us for joining him and ended the set for the evening. As we sat there in the glow of the moment quietly lost in old and new memories, I couldn’t help sighing. What a remarkable evening.
And then it hit me. What was the one traditional element in every momentous occasion? A Champagne Toast. Thanks to a talented musician playing our song and a lovely flute of champagne, we’d just been given a perfect ending to our very special celebration.
It’s amazing what a choice can create.
p.s. The musician that evening was Napa Valley pianist, David Ruane. Click on his name to hear this extremely nice and wonderfully talented guy.
Happy listening! – Allison aka Rose