Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Special Occasion

I had this bottle of wine sitting around my apartment:

The wine bottle

It's been sitting around since I moved here, because I haven't really had an occasion to drink it. I've had lots of occasions to drink wine, and have consumed a lot of wine in my apartment in glasses and in food, but I haven't had occasion to drink that specific bottle of wine because I was waiting for a special occasion. Back when I was moving from Albany to Tennessee my non-boyfriend boyfriend gave me this bottle of wine as a going away present.

"This is really good wine, and I want you to save this bottle until you have something really good to celebrate, like you win the lottery, or you and a guy move in together, or you get your next promotion, and then you go ahead and drink this wine to celebrate."

When I moved here, my friend Tiffany kept it in her car on the passenger seat for the entire ride down, so that it would stay in the air conditioning and not get broken in the U-Haul truck. I've had that bottle sitting in my wine rack since 2006.

This is not to say that I haven't had special occasions. I've gotten raises and reclassifications. I got a new car. I went on some dates. A whole bunch of stuff has happened, but every time something came up and I thought about opening the wine, I thought, "Well, is this special enough? Is this worth my special bottle of special wine, or will something even better happen and then I'll feel bad about drinking this?"

I kind of forgot something important, though: You will never appreciate the things that you have if you are too busy waiting for something better.

Devaluing my special occasions in the hope that some other, more special occasion will happen in the future is stupid.

So is saving this bottle of wine.

I was thinking about that the other day when I was cleaning the kitchen and my eyes fell upon the special bottle of special wine and I thought, "How special is that, anyway?" It turns out that it's not actually that special. Being the sensitive, kind, thoughtful person that he was, my non-boyfriend boyfriend left the price tag on the back of the bottle, and I discovered that not only is his special wine not all that special, but it has actually depreciated in value since he bought it. I laughed and laughed and laughed, because it turns out that he knew as much about wine as he did about anything, really, and then I thought, "Well, shit, I might as well just go ahead and drink this."

I didn't want to just pop the cork and drink it at the kitchen counter (actually, I kind of did, but I decided to be a civilized person), so I decided to pick up some crackers and cheese, and have a wine night. While I was buying the cheese, though, a terrible thought occurred to me:

Wasn't there a cheese recipe in the Jello book?

You bet there was.

Friday night I got started on the Bleu Cheese Salad Mold, which the Jell-O book suggests is appropriate for special occasions, including weddings. Since that book was published around the time of my parents' wedding, and my parents had a pot-luck wedding reception, I texted my mom to ask, "Hey, did anyone serve anything at your wedding made of Jello?"

It's been over an hour, and she has not responded.

The Bleu Cheese mold started by adding salt to two boxes of lemon Jell-O prepared according to package directions and then putting the gelatin in the refrigerator until it was slightly thickened. While that was happening, I blended a softened block of cream cheese, various spices, and a half cup of crumbled bleu cheese together:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (1)

Then I removed the partially thickened gelatin from the refrigerator:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (2)

and blended them together:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (3)

It looks about how you would think it would look, but it's not even close to done. After mixing the gelatin and cheese, you have to gently fold in an entire tub of whipped topping:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (4)

Once that's done:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (5)

I poured it into my Bundt cake pan, since I don't own any molds big enough to handle seven cups of salad, covered the top in plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator overnight to firm up.

Then, last night, I went ahead and opened the wine. As if a metaphor for the entire relationship that spawned the gift of the wine bottle to begin with, the cork broke while I was uncorking it:

The wine

The bottom of the cork also crumbled into the wine, but I figured I could skim the pieces of cork off of the top and try it anyway, and while the wine was breathing, I could unmold the gelatin:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (6)

Unmolding Jell-O can be tricky, and I dipped this mold a little too long, so it came out a little wet but mostly serviceable:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (7)

The only thing left to do was taste it:

Blue Cheese Jello Mold (8)

It didn't taste like bleu cheese at all. It didn't taste like lemon, either, which is a plus. It tasted sort of like cheese, but with a really light texture. I ended up eating quite a bit of it before I remembered that I was supposed to be eating the cheese and crackers with the wine:

a special evening

The wine was terrible.

I poured it down the drain.


Marcheline said...

I'm glad the Jello affair worked out to your liking (I can't really contemplate it too deeply because I just woke up and have not even had my coffee yet, and the mere thought of the ingredients is making me woozy).

That guy who gave you the wine was probably trying - albeit not very hard - to make you think he gave you a bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild... that wine goes for $700 and upward. Either that, or he was just dumb. Of course, the fact that he left the price tag on it sort of sums up the whole thing. I think dumping it down the sink was probably good mental closure for you on the whole deal.

If you like a good non-uppity red that won't break the bank, try Apothic. You can enjoy looking at the gorgeous label while you sip!

Justin Bower said...

Red wine paired with a lemon/dairy dish? Sacre bleu(cheese)!

(without coming to his defense, I will say that not all wines improve greatly with age. Cheap reds are often best had closer to their sell-by date. So it might have been a little better nine years ago.)

I was kind of hoping for a Sideways homage, where you drank it out of a paper bag at a fast food restaurant, but that probably would have been a little cliche now that I think of it.

Here's to new wine! (in the sort of splurgy category I like Duckhorn's Migration and La Crema's pinot noirs, Bogle's petit syrah, and Debeouf's beaujolais (Moulin-a-vant or something like that).) For less splurgy, everyday occasions, I would heartily recommend the relative awesomeness of the Bota Box. Boxed wine ain't what it used to be.