My earliest wine memories are family meals.
I sat at my grandparents’ dining room. The table dressed in Christmas greenery, red candles, and a white table cloth embroidered with holly. The adults would pass wine around and then place the bottles at either end.
The 12, or sometimes 13, of us fit snug. We’d all wait patiently for the first course of many on Christmas Eve: my grandmother’s mushroom soup.
She transformed dried mushrooms from Poland into a magical dish that defines my taste of the holidays. Its pairing still confounds me. There’s no wine to match to the soul inside your bowl.
My grandmother wasn’t a wine connoisseur. Far less important were the contents of her glass. She enjoyed the company around her. As a result, her cup was never empty.
If she had her choice of wine, she’d pick something sweet.
And sweetness she deserved.
In 1940, she, along with her family, and thousands of other Poles were ripped from their homes. The Soviets invaded Eastern Poland, as Hitler invaded from the West.
The next 3 years were marked with extreme hardship. She endured the forced labor camps of the Gulag in Siberia. Eventually, she made her way to Mexico via Karachi and a 6-week journey by boat to the United States.
Ultimately, she arrived at Hacienda Santa Rosa—a place she described as being like a dream. Finally, she felt free.
My last wine memory of my grandmother is delivering a glass of her favorite wine.
I opened the bottle with the same care and attention I had learned via my wine studies. She was then and will forever be the guest of honor.
She sat on the couch looking at all of us. The twinkle in her eye made the glow of the Christmas tree dull.
“I’m so lucky,” she said. “Look at my beautiful family.”
To have that twinkle after everything she witnessed is nothing short of a miracle.
May your cup always be full of the sweetness of life. Na Zdrowie!
This is a lovely tribute to your grandmother.
> “I’m so lucky,” she said. “Look at my beautiful family.”
You and your family are lucky to have her too
Thanks for sharing your sweet good-bye to your grandmother. I'm sure I would have loved to have had the opportunity to see her love and appreciation for her life and your family with a glass of sweet wine. I'm grateful you had the opportunity and are so grateful for having her in your life.