New York City and Wine: Bringing People Together

New Yorkers are forced to be communal with each other and, with 9/11 around the corner, I remember how, during those days, people of various backgrounds came together to help each other out. And I remember drinking wine with strangers at the local bars, telling our stories to each other / Leggi in italiano

One of New York City’s biggest drawbacks is also one of its greatest assets: the lack of personal space which forces people to constantly interact. Most people do not have a yard, most people do not have many rooms, and most people live in buildings where they need to be conscious of their neighbors being able to hear every little thing. So New Yorkers are forced to be communal with each other.

This not only takes the form of people commuting on the subways, or walking elbow to elbow on the sidewalks, but it also takes the form of artists having to create in public spaces. It is not uncommon to hear a singer rehearsing a song who is walking behind you – sometimes you can pretend it is your own personal soundtrack. And the parks, especially Washington Square Park, are filled with musicians who need to practice, and not only is this a requirement due to them respecting their neighboring apartments wanting peace and quiet, but it is just a lot more fun to practice with a crowd.

Wine brings people together too. Even the most awkward encounters can be positively enhanced with a glass of wine. But wine is more than alcohol. It always seems a shame to drink wine alone. Wine is about sharing good times and bad, it is about sharing smiles, laughs and sometimes tears. When we think of someone going out to party and wanting to get drunk, we do not think about them drinking interesting wines. There are some drinks that help us to forget and there are some drinks that help us to share.

9/11 is around the corner and those of us who have lived through it (my apartment was 2 miles/ 3.2 kilometers away) will never forget it. Actually, sometimes I wish I could forget it. It is not possible to forget so I try to remember the good as well as the bad for my own sanity. The memories that I love to remember are those of New Yorkers of various backgrounds coming together to help each other out.

I remember all the messages written on the sidewalks blessing the police, firemen, port authority workers and victims’ families. I remember everyone on the streets stopping to cheer on the fire trucks driving to the World Trade Towers. I remember that so many volunteers walked down to the World Trade Towers to help that they had to turn people away. I remember strangers of all races, who spoke various languages, hugging each other on the streets. I remember drinking wine with strangers at the local bars and restaurants, telling our stories to each other; all of us from different places, a lot of times different countries. It was all those moments of connecting with human beings that helped me to get through that difficult time.

Yes, New York City can be overwhelming, even for those of us who have been here for decades. Sometimes I feel that I need some alone time, to breathe and allow my brain to process all the stimulus. And even though it is not a completely safe city and you need to always be aware of your surroundings, I have always felt that if anything was to happen, those around me would be there to help me out. No matter where we came from, our heritage or our native language, there is always the common experience we share trying to survive in New York City. And there is always someone there who is willing to share a glass of wine and celebrate the idea of just being able to survive.


Cathrine's Recommendations

Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)

2013 Bodegas Martin Codax Albariño, Galicia, Rias Baixas, Spain ($12): Albariño is a semi-aromatic variety that gives a touch of spice with juicy white peach flavors – and it is peach season in New York City and so grilled peaches and Albariño go great together!

Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)

2005 Antonio Vallana Gattinara, Piedmont, Italy ($28): This is made from the king of grapes, Nebbiolo. Yes, we all know of Barolo and Barbaresco but they have a more affordable cousin so to speak, Gattinara, another great quality Nebbiolo winemaking area in Piedmont but at a more affordable price. A wonderful nose with lots of earth and rose petals with a firm palate that consists of dried black cherry and powdery tannins. 

Fantasy Wine (over $50)

2005 Domaine Michel Gros Vosne Romanee, Burgundy, France ($56): Some say that only Pinot Noir can match the aromatic complexity of Nebbiolo, and vice versa. Pretty aromas of sweet spice and wild purple flowers with a silky texture that delivers red cherry fruit and licorice giving this wine a sweet impression while still being technically a dry wine. 


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