The second part of this post can be read here.
The author of Vinicultured has been my friend for six years. In counting all of the intersections of our lives, I’d have to say that this cross-post is the culmination of those years. If you think that’s insulting, then you either underestimate the power of food as a social anchor or overestimate my ability to maintain a decent friendship. In any case, one late night trip to Berkeley’s most infamously mediocre taqueria in 2003 has already proven you wrong.
Back then, I was abstinent, and Joon was drunk. I was turning my 20th year on planet Earth and doing a terrible job of it. Joon was trying hard not to start a fight with the neighboring fraternity and doing just as badly. We decided to settle our scores with burritos. That night ended with me playing the guitar and him rambling about life’s unsung battles in the tiniest bedroom on the most unforgiving slope Berkeley has to offer. After that year, I never set foot in a fraternity house again.
Last weekend, Joon and I raised our glasses under the aegis of a different cult: that sloshing, swirling society of connoisseurs known as wine tasters. It was a fitting signpost to our most recent intersection of lifestyles: He, the Bar bound poet and romantic, and I, the pop culture obsessed musician and blogger, would soon be ending our purgatorial sentences in Southern California as we once again made our moves on the world at large. We toasted our future discoveries and disillusionment in advance with a few glasses of joy at Heritage Wine Company in Pasadena.
To the unvinicultured, Heritage is a near-perfect self parody of a wine bar. Refined, semi-modern furniture bearing off-Ikea candles welcomes visitors to the club. Soft jazz hums along in the background. A young professional couple too embarrassing to look at sits before a flight of red wines, the woman blithely fiddling with her cellphone while the man slings an arm over his bench and takes a lifeless sip of his next sample. A beautiful young lady offers us a menu, indulging us with her personal favorites, knowing that as long as she smiles and laughs we will gladly do anything she suggests. In the background, the owner of the business shuffles bottles, waiting for the challenger of the day to seat himself self-assuredly at the bar for an hour of shop talk.
As the title of this blog attests, Joon’s own summation of Heritage Wine Company would be quite different. For example, he might have something insightful to say about the three bottles of wine we opened with our friends. As I recall, the 2004 Omaka Springs Falveys Pinot Noir was a crisp, tart affair, light bodied and nimbly cherried. The 2005 Domaine Ferrer Ribiere Empreinte du Temps Carignan Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes (I can’t decide whether or not my Russian phoenetics instructor would be proud or ashamed that I managed to remember that name) was a heavier duty glass: deep, dry and deliciously violet. Joon’s final selection, the 2006 Saint Amour Cru Beaujolais, came chilled. By that point, my insensitive and intoxicated wine palette could sense only the arrival of more sweet alcohol. The wines were fine, but like the names of the songs we sang in Joon’s room five years prior, these titles, too, were meant to be forgotten.
Once again, we closed the evening with the assistance of a large burrito. As I engulfed every delicious morsel, I wondered for a moment if I would ever set foot in a wine bar again. As long as I could call Joon a friend, I knew the answer would probably be yes.
Heritage Wine Company
115 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103