A hint of raisin

One of the best things that can happen to a person in my opinion is for the person to be sitting at a bar having a Guinness with a friend, and for that person to learn, through the powerful force of random bouts of conversation with strangers, that the nice guy sitting next to her is the sommelier of a well-known hotel and restaurant in town. After she thinks about vocabulary for a few minutes and realizes that, indeed, sommelier=individual who knows and inordinate amount about wine=new best friend, they chat for a while. This weekend we took up my new friend's offer, which was to visit the Sienna Hotel in Chapel Hill where he'll only be working for a few more days (before he moves on to wine distribution with friends) and do a tasting.

What made this visit even better was that J and I had visitors in town: Kristen, who went to high school and college with J, and who is 100 percent awesome for many reasons (one of which is that she didn't cry her way through the book The Time Traveler's Wife, like me, even though all our friends told us we would. We thought, "God, what's wrong with us?" and then realized, NOTHING. First of all, people can't time travel. There's a lot of crap going on that actually happens, like politics and celebrity gossip) and my brother, Vinnie. The four of us entered the hotel a little nervous that four raucous young movers and shakers like ourselves might be looked upon with disdain in such a posh establishment, but quite the opposite was true. First of all, once my sommelier friend Damon entered the scene and warmly welcomed us, we were drinking about five glasses a piece of better stuff than the swanky looking older gentlemen sitting in the room. Cabernet Sauvignon? Ok. But we're going to sit here and enjoy the best bottle from the best producer in Northern Italy. So there.

For another thing, once you've had, you know, about seven glasses of wine you start to feel very comfortable in your surroundings. Once we we'd asked a full array of appropriately absurd questions ("Could you explain 'full-bodied' to me?" "Do you get to drink this stuff every day?") we started picking up the lingo. We talked about varietals and our palates and detected hints of all sorts of things you'd never think you'd find in there. Cocoa. Cinnamon. Raisins.

It was an amazing experience, quite frankly, and I'm so thankful to my new friend for setting us up. But the weekend wasn't all nice hotel bars and checking whose teeth got reddest fastest, which is classy. We took in some local culture with an exhibit at the Ackland Art Museum. And Sunday we rejuvenated our souls with a brisk walk at Jordan Lake where J, who by all means knows way more about birds than he used to, packed a bag full of gear, including binoculars, birding guides and the "Flydentifier" he got for Christmas. For those of you who are non-birding-non-nerds, that's a little contraption that plays all sorts of bird sounds. Sadly, those recorded calls were the most prevalent that day as the lake was pretty deplete of wildlife except for the dogs, who proceeded with roam the beaches and woods with zealous insanity.

It was a cold day, unlike the unusual warm weather we've been experiencing recently, and when we got home we made cappucinos. It is this sort of weekend that makes the nights lying under a quilt watching television seem less lazy and more appropriate recharging. Especially when the Golden Globes are on and for the first time in a year we've got a working remote.