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Wine, Cheese, and Friendship

Over the course of my grandmother’s long life we surely shared hundreds of bottles of wine. My grandparents were by no means wine aficionados. Mostly they drank magnums of Woodbridge Chardonnay. But they did appreciate the sentiment of opening a bottle as we all stood around the giant island in their kitchen that overlooked the hay fields surrounding their Georgia home. There would be a simple platter with simple cheeses (think a hunk of Swiss and perhaps some Maytag Blue) along with Goya guava paste (that comes in the big tin), and a sleeve of saltines.

You get the picture. This was certainly no photo-shoot affair but a 1980s assortment of odds and ends that worked as an appetizer.

On spring and summer evenings we might take the spread down by the pool. And in the middle of summer we would transport the whole affair to our beach house in Jacksonville, FL. But the setup remained the same -- platter of cheeses and ice cold Woodbridge Chardonnay.

As time passed, and I went further down the foodie path, I brought home nicer bottles. At first I kept it in the California, oaked Chardonnay realm, but eventually I took us farther afield with Chardonnays from France and discovered that my grandmother loved Pouilly-Fuisse. She was well traveled and well dined so it should have come as no surprise. But honestly I think she most loved the quirky rhyming and never tired of saying “Pouilly-Fuisse” with her distinctive southern lilt. Think: “Poo-eeeee Foo-saaaaay”!

Once my grandfather passed, it seemed that no one remembered to bring out the guava paste, and we gradually moved on to more artisanal cheeses and fancier crackers. But our ritual remained virtually the same: 5 o’clock meant that it was time to sit down, pour a glass of Chardonnay and take in the waning day.

With her recent passing I look back on all those glasses raised and dusks shared, and I know that this will always be my favorite hour of the day.

Here's to you Grandma! May there be plenty of Chardonnay in heaven!

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