Best wine (memory) of 2013

I always have a hard time with the ‘best of’ question because it’s like trying to grip a handful of water. The moment you think you’ve got a hold, it slips out and you get a new idea. So I went though my 2013 pictures and grabbed the first that hit me.

“Best” to me always means “a great memory” or “an amazing situation” or simply a moment I want to go back to. In March 2013, Angela and I couldn’t take the Minnesota winter anymore and spontaneously bought tickets to San Francisco and wine country. We used some miles with American Airlines to purchase the tickets, which turned out to be a great thing indeed.

The day of the flight it was five degrees fahrenheit in Minnesota, and we took a cab to the airport. The lines for security were astronomically long (Spring break’s first wave to warm destinations), the worst we’ve ever seen. Most security lines were at 90 minutes, which means we might miss our flight. We went to the American Airlines counter to get our boarding passes and were kindly told “Oh, since you used miles you are flying priority. Here are your free drink passes, you can board with First Class, and you can use this security bypass line right here.” Boom!


On the plane, our priority drink vouchers magically doubled, and as we finished our second round we flew over San Francisco looking down on a perfect spring afternoon beaming on the city followed by a perfect landing and quick journey to the car rental area, where we were upgraded for free to a better vehicle.

We were starving, and headed for Zuni Cafe, our regular first stop whenever we land in the city. Pulling up toward Zuni, a parking spot opened right in front. We had a hard time walking in because of the crowds (many larger groups waiting for tables). Even the bar was packed. We asked the hostess how long for a table and she said about an hour or more, but, wait, hold on, you’re just two people? We have a small table upstairs!

At the little table at the top of the stairs at Zuni Cafe.

At the little table at the top of the stairs at Zuni Cafe.

We nestled into the coziest table in one of the greatest restaurants in our favorite city. The wine list arrived, and I’ve always believed that there’s a bargain to be had. Searching carefully, we happened upon the Chateau de Bellevue Lussac St. Emillion 1998 … a terrific Bordeaux vintage for the Right Bank … for only $40. It was showing its 15 years of age gracefully and beautifully, with roasted red fruit aromas, integrated and seamless tannins.


This might not have been the single best wine I had in 2013, but it was one of the best wine moments of 2013. With the famous Zuni Cafe Roasted Chicken it was a perfect start to what would be a perfect vacation. Every aspect of that week was, as American Airlines would call it, priority!


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