This time of year can be a whirlwind of events and celebrations. Whether it is for work, family, or friends, there seems to be an avalanche of social events– especially in an overpopulated city that never seems to sleep, such as New York City. One may even feel guilty for spending any time alone, as the season is about giving to others.
I am certainly a social creature and crave connecting to old friends as well as meeting new ones. I am comfortable in a lively group dynamic or a one on one heart to heart, but I find that the holiday season forces us to feel pressure to try to go to everything, speak to everyone – in some instances buy a gift or send a card to everyone who has ever mattered in our life. Of course, there is nothing wrong with any of this, but it can take its toll on us. Some of us may feel that we are not living up to this high expectation of making it the best holiday ever for all those around us, and hence, through time, we lose touch with that truly joyful feeling we should naturally be having during this time of year.
Through the years it has become vital to me to spend some time alone and even more so during the holiday season. Even if it is just fifteen minutes of allowing my mind to wander, a walk that has no purpose except to clear my mind, or my favorite, to observe the city with its festive decorations and all the fascinating people who come and walk down its sidewalks. I step aside from my own personal emotions to open myself to the experiences of others – a child seeing the Rockefeller Christmas tree for the first time, a group of young ladies giggling as they pass the Saks Fifth Avenue decorated windows or noticing someone alone, seemingly sad, standing by himself off to the side.
I find that when I can just become the observer, I get the chance to experience the holidays in a fresh way that makes it less about me and my expectation of my holiday season and more about the beautiful wonderment that other people create within us.
Another Day of Grace
Last week I had an incredible conversation with the retired woman who lives across the hall in my apartment building that ended in her saying, “It’s time to start another day. Another day of grace.” Her demeanor, tone and choice of words healed me of any doubts about living up to this year’s holiday expectation. It was as if she told me that I was enough, we were all enough. And so, I know now that the best gift that I can give to others is to take the time to live in grace.
As I reflect back on this year, these are recommendations of wines that were once unknown wines to me and conjure different feelings of grace.
Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)
2014 Grifo Nero di Troia, Puglia, Italy (2013 available for $13): 100% Nero di Troia (aka Uva di Troia). This is a red wine from the northern part of Puglia (in the area of Castel del Monte) that I tasted back in October. Many times we think of wines from Puglia as being big and robust, such as those Primitivo wines that come from the south, but the more restrained, elegant wines from the north are not as available in the US. Nero di Troia has always been used as a blending grape to add grace and refinement to red blends from the Castel del Monte area, but tasting my first 100% Nero di Troia wine truly made me appreciate its elegance. Fresh red currant, tobacco leaf and pepper with round tannins.
Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)
2014 Glorie Farm Winery Cabernet Franc, Hudson River Region, New York ($19): 100% Cabernet Franc. I was able to tastes various US wines made from Cabernet Franc on #CabFrancDay founded by Dracaena wines (December 4th) and this one, from the lesser known New York wine region of Hudson River Region really impressed me with its new world purity balanced by old world grace. Cabernet Franc is one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon and it typically has less tannins, paler red color and more aromatic lift than its offspring. A light red wine with a lovely floral nose, bright black currant fruit and a hint of autumn leaves.
Fantasy Wine (over $50)
2013 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1886, St. Helena, Napa Valley, California ($110): I had this wine at a wine conference, in Lodi, CA, over the summer. At the gala dinner, I was surrounded by many people buzzing around, laughing loudly with fun conversations when I tasted this bottle that was quickly passed around the table. Everything seemed to fade into the background and I was temporarily in my own world drinking this brilliant glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. A great example of opulence and grace existing together with succulent black raspberry fruit with lots of flesh on the palate that was perfectly balanced by taut acidity and fine laced tannins with a superb length of flavor.