Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Wine Guise

About once a month I get together with “the guys.” These fellows are successful, well connected members of the business and political community in my city. I don’t know how I got invited to join their group; I think it was my friend Hank who was trying to load up with another Italian American. And I occasionally have “access” to good wine. But these guys didn’t need me.

At first, I wondered about the get-togethers. It usually centered around a wine theme. Bordeaux, Chilean reds, Burgundy, Barolo, Napa Cabs, and so on. And while in any given day I might taste up to 100 wines and the last thing I might want to do is sit around and drink more wine, for some reason I just gave in to this monthly ritual. I’m glad I did.

Hank - Entrepreneur and world adventurer

Hank is the instigator of this gathering. Not quite a salon, and not just a bunch of horny old men talking about good looking younger women, although that isn’t off limits. No, I have been trying to figure out why we really get together. Oh we eat well and drink good wine. We, or rather they, talk about local politics and business. It has been an education for me to listen and learn about the city I have lived in for 30 years. A city which I barely know. And a city which doesn’t have the slightest idea about me. So very odd to write these words and very hard to acknowledge the truth in them. But it is so.

Phil – Restaurateur and land mogul

These guys are a gut check for a certain rhythm that this city puts out.

Neal – Enigmatic urban revitalizer

When I was younger, I saw this city as a haven for opportunity and freedom. It has been that. For the guys in my group they have probably been a bit more astute in realizing and pouncing on these opportunities. Fortunes have been made and lost and made again.

Dave – Hospitality, marketing and media "diviner"

I think that is what attracted me to Dallas, an “anything is possible” attitude. Yes, I know folks in bigger cities or in more ecologically sensitive or more beautiful places might look at a city like Dallas and shake their heads and think this here place is bright and shiny and shallow. Yes, it does look like that from the outside. But things aren’t always as they appear, especially when gift wrapped so handsomely.

Hank left today to go on a three month adventure to that starts in Riga, Latvia, and ends in New Delhi, India, on September 14. He'll be blogging here about it. He and his brave wife will go to Uzbekistan, Kyzgystan, Western China, the Taklamakan (translates to “go in and you won’t come out”) Desert, following The Silk Road to Tibet. They will cross the Himalayan Mountains to Nepal, and finally travel to India and home to Dallas.

I asked Hank why he chose Dallas. He can live anywhere, and for most of the year he does. Hank is a straight talker, no b.s. kind of guy. Simply, he said Dallas was small enough to have friends and large enough to find whatever he needed when he wasn’t exploring the world. A great place to come home to.

Me, I'm tackling the wine trail in Italy and Hank is taking on the Taklamakan Desert, the Silk Road and the Himalayas. I’ve got nothing to gripe about.

When the wine guys get together, drinking a vertical of the Old Hill Zin from Ravenswood going back to 1991, with that marvelous Lasagna al ragu Bolognese from Nonna followed by a three meat platter from Cobb Switch BBQ, I know it isn’t always about the wine. Or the food.

But I don’t see us resorting to drinking 2 Buck Chuck and eating a Whopper when we get together. We all like good things too much. What I have found, in this short time together, is something very hard to find in today’s modern world. It’s a group of men who have taken pleasure in the conviviality of brotherhood, under the guise of wine and food.

And that has been a gift that this city has given to all of us fathers, not just on Father's Day.


exromana said...

enjoyed reading your post. i have just moved to a city in North America, from Rome. your post inspires me- i am having trouble settling in. thank you...

Amy Atwood said...

Beautifully written as always Alfonso. Yes, the great beauty of Texas is to be found in it's people, full of unexpected eccentricities and independence of spirit.

Unknown said...

Alfonso--- nicely done, I enjoyed your look at "us", at Dallas, and I always enjoy your insight. Hope to see you again before Hank returns. Dave

Unknown said...

"But things aren’t always as they appear, especially when gift wrapped so handsomely."

Never a better truth be told about how this city runs. And that's from someone who can easily recognize some of this play's characters.

(BTW, who's the guy in the red bowling shirt?!)

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