We weren’t the only ones drinking Giuseppe Vaira’s excellent Barolo last night. One of his best vintages of Albe to date.

Please consider donating to our GoFundMe campaign to raise an MLK billboard overlooking the neo-Confederate memorial in the southeast Texas town where Tracie grew up. We plan to have the artwork up in time for MLK Day 2022. And if we can raise enough money, it will remain in place throughout Black History Month. Thank you.

There are certain nights when work doesn’t feel like, well… “work.”

Yesterday evening was one of those times. Last night, Giuseppe Vaira, legacy grower and winemaker at G.D. Vajra in Barolo, joined Roma restaurant guests and me for a tasting of his excellent 2017 Barolo Albe.

It’s a wine that his family has been making for roughly two decades and it’s always been a go-to wine for me, whether as a wine lover or a wine director looking for an approachable but still classic Barolo that even guests with little Nebbiolo experience will love.

But last night’s 2017 was a cut above. It had a depth of flavor that was only matched by its balance and grace. Maybe it was just our mood at our last virtual wine dinner of the year. Maybe it was just that the stars were perfectly aligned.

Or maybe it’s just that this wine, as Giuseppe so beautifully put it, has grown up like the vines that were planted many years ago to produce it. In his view, it was the age of the vines combined with the uniqueness of the vintage that brought the wine into crystal clear focus.

Or maybe, just maybe… it was because we weren’t the only ones drinking it. While we were chatting and tasting over a Zoom call (at 2:30 in the morning for Giuseppe!), one of America’s most famous sports figures was enjoying it at the restaurant. I dunno… there was just something in the air!

My heartfelt thanks goes out to Giuseppe for joining us so early in the morning. It was a truly magical event and a fantastic way to close out our year in wine. Thanks to all our guests at the restaurant who have supported the virtual events over the last two years. We have every intention of bringing you more and more virtual content. Stay tuned and happy new year!

Help us raise an MLK billboard over the neo-Confederate memorial in Orange, Texas where Tracie grew up.

In 1969, the Houston-based art collectors and civil rights activists Dominique and John de Menil purchased the third “multiple” of “Broken Obelisk” (above), a sculpture by 20th-century American artist Barnett Newman. They planned to donate it to the city of Houston where it was to be displayed at City Hall. But when the city of Houston learned that the couple planned to dedicate the work to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been assassinated by a White Supremacist the previous year, the city refused the gift. Rebuffed by the city government, they decided to install the sculpture on the grounds of the Rothko Chapel, designed by artist Mark Rothko and completed in what is now Houston’s museum district in 1971.

(Read about the legacy of this work in Houston here. Warning: the link contains graphic images of vandalism by White Supremacists.)

Our daughters, ages 8 and 10, have visited the site many times over the years. It’s always a magical visit for our family, although our girls are still too young to understand the sculpture’s historical and present-day significance.

Given the history of racist violence in southeast Texas, where Tracie was born and where we have lived for the last nine years, it was devastating to learn that White Supremacists planned to build a neo-Confederate memorial along Interstate 10 in Orange, Texas where Tracie grew up and where we spend a lot of time with our children.

In 2017, despite Herculean efforts by the Orange city government to stop them, the Sons of Confederate Veterans completed the “Memorial of the Wind,” featuring Lost Cause battle flags, including the Confederate flag — now a neo-Confederate flag.

The following year, Tracie and I began protesting the site regularly. And we also began raising money to display an MLK billboard across the road.

(Our efforts are documented on our site, RepurposeMemorial.com.)

Because of health concerns, we won’t be organizing a protest on MLK Day 2022, Monday, January 17. But we will be raising a billboard. And if we can raise enough funds, it will stay in place throughout Black History Month (February).

Please give to our GoFundMe here.

The City of Orange tried unsuccessfully to block the construction of the memorial, which lies on private property owned by the Sons. But they did manage to limit the height of the flagpoles so they can’t be seen from the freeway. It sits on MLK Dr., one of the town’s major arteries. For the people who have to drive by it every day, it is a reminder of the racist violence that has plagued the city since Reconstruction and beyond.

Our hopes that the site will be repurposed are dim. But we are committed to reminding the community, half of which is black, that the conspicuous public display of racist paraphernalia is unacceptable today. As a famous winemaker once said, sometimes the battles you know you will lose are the most important ones to wage. We will never abandon our efforts.

In recent weeks, I have been inspired by the words of critical theorist and activist bell hooks, who passed away this month.

In her 1994 essay “Love as the Practice of Freedom,” she wrote that “the moment we choose to love, we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love, we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.”

Tracie and I continue to love Orange, Texas and the people who live there. They are our people and we know that love will ultimately triumph there.

In the meantime, we hope you will consider giving to our campaign. And if you cannot give, please share the link with your community.

Click here to donate.

May G-d bless Orange, Texas. May G-d bless the neo-Confederates. May G-d bless us all. Thank you for your support and solidarity.

“Weather and Wine,” last night’s show by 60 Minutes, raises awareness of wine’s (often whispered but rarely spoken) existential threat.

It was impressive to watch last night as 60 Minutes journalist Lesley Stahl dived into one of wine’s thorniest issues: the impact of climate change on grape growing.

Doubly impressive when you consider that the overwhelming majority of commercial winemakers are deeply reluctant to raise awareness of the climatic issues they face now with every vintage. To talk about the severe weather events of the current or a past vintage, the thought process goes, would be to threaten the harvest’s commercial viability. And it’s not an off-the-mark attitude: by the time vintage notes make it to the layperson consumer, who knows and probably cares little about the nuance of vintage or terroir, a stigmatized vintage can radically diminish the retail value of a given wine in the mind of the uninformed buyer.

I highly recommend checking out the broadcast, which — it’s important to note in my view — had the following subtitle: “Drawing truth to power.” (Wow!)

I was eager to watch the show last night because I had been contacted by the producers during the Christmas break: they wanted to use a photo of frost damage that they had found here on the blog.

Dario Vezzoli, the author of the photo and son of Franciacorta grower Giuseppe Vezzoli, swiftly agree to let them use it (thank you again, Dario!).

But I also told them that the person they needed to speak to was Alberto Cordero, legacy grower at the Cordero di Montezemolo winery in La Morra, Barolo.

Where so many producers have been extremely tip-lipped about the effect of climate change in Langa, Alberto has spoken openly about the challenges his estate faced with the April frost in 2017. He also graciously agreed to let the show use his photos. (Alberto’s wines are imported to the U.S. by Ethica Wines, one of my clients; see their post on the show here.)

As it so happens, we opened Alberto’s 2017 Barolo Monfalletto during our (ongoing) Christmas break. Besides the 1998 Giacosa white label Barolo Rocche Falletto that a friend brought to our holiday party this year, the Monfalletto was one of the best wines we tasted this year. It was surprisingly approachable, with great freshness and drinkability, elegant and nuanced with wonderful balance between the acidity, alcohol, and tannin. We — Tracie, me, and another couple — loved it.

The fact that Alberto and his family decided to release their top wine from the now infamous 2017 vintage reflects their confidence that they were able to make great wine from the 2017 harvest — maybe not as much wine but great nonetheless, as the bottle in question showed.

It brings to mind an adage often attributed to the great Montalcino winemaker Piero Talenti (I’ve never been able to verify if and/or where he said or wrote it): there are no “bad” vintages; there are simply vintages when we make less wine.

As Alberto pointed out in his newsletter in February of this year, the frost caused the most damage in lower-lying spots where the freeze really took hold. Top vineyards, like his family’s Monfalletto, were high enough to be spared.

For Christmas Eve, Tracie and I opened a bottle of the 2017 Produttori del Barbaresco, a classic “blended” Barbaresco, sourced from multiple vineyards in the historic cooperative’s family of parcels.

This wine, one of my all-time favorites, also showed beautifully. My only lament would be that the fruit was very restrained when we first opened it. We drank it over three nights (one of awesome things about top Nebbiolo) and by last night, it had come into glorious focus (paired with pork loin tacos, black beans, and 60 Minutes!).

It was another example of how 2017 will be remembered for both its challenges and its great wines.

I know the 60 Minutes show will be endlessly parsed in coming days. Although I found it to be well balanced, it could have also addressed issues like copper, the wine industry’s true “dirty little secret.” It also could have taken a closer look at the many excellent wines that are being released from 2017 and will be released from 2021.

There were other issues — mostly lacunae — as well. But I think it’s fantastic that the mainstream media is beginning to make “climate change and wine” part of the cultural conversation. Maybe some of the oil barons here in Houston will start paying attention when they realize that their precious wines are under threat.

Parzen family Christmas letter and NEW ALBUM by Parzen Family Singers. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and happy new year from the Parzen family!

Our family, like everyone across the U.S. and the world, have faced the challenges of the covid era as best as we could. All in all, we’ve been extremely fortunate. And our lives have also been filled with many blessings over the last 12 months.

Georgia turned 10 this month and Lila Jane celebrated her eighth birthday in July.

Both girls are doing well, getting good grades at school and playing piano (both) and violin (Georgia) and cello (Lila Jane). Both girls are also in their school’s choir program.

They both made the cut for the “performers” orchestra at their school this year.

One holiday season highlight was their performance at the mayor’s tree lighting festival. It was their first taste of playing on a big stage, with lights and cameras etc. And the entire event was produced as a holiday show by the local ABC affiliate. It was amazing to watch the girls watch themselves on TV! They loved it! As did their parents.

The biggest news of our year was that Tracie went back to work full time for the first time since Georgia was born in 2011. In early 2021, she obtained her realtor license and by April she had already landed at an old line Houston firm.

She has thrived over the last eight months and the results have been amazing. And it’s been wonderful to see her enjoy her new job so much. As the old folks used to say, poo poo poo… After all the setbacks of 2020 (when my work evaporated), we are closer to reaching our financial goals than ever before.

With Tracie leaving the house early each morning and generally coming home after the girls have finished school, I’ve taken on a lot more of the parenting, which has been awesome. My days are tighter than ever but I’ve been enjoying the extended time I get to spend with the girls and working on music with them.

My work picked up again early this year and it’s actually turning out to be a good year for me work-wise.

The Slow Food University brought me over to Italy twice this year to teach, my sixth year with the graduate program there. And I’ve been traveling about once a month to California to sell some wine wholesale, which has also been a rewarding experience, especially because I’ve been able to spend more time with my mother, who’s 88 now.

All in all, there’s not much to complain about these days. We are all concerned about health and safety in the coming year. But after 2020, we feel confident we’ll make it through. Like families across the U.S., we’ve adjusted to the new normal and are making sure to stay as safe as possible.

As we’ve spent more time at home over the past 12 months, the girls have become more interested in the recording arts. And they sing on a couple of tracks on our new album, “Falling in Love Again.”

A couple of YouTubes follow and you can hear the whole album here.

The title track is one of the three love songs we recorded for Tracie on this one. And “Whatever Happened To” is a French pop-inspired song that just bubbled up in me like vintage Bollinger. It was such a thrill to share it with my old bandmates. They concurred it would have made the cut back in the day!

Georgia, Lila Jane, Tracie, and I wish you and yours a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Please stay safe, remember the neediest, and keep kindness in your hearts. May G-d bless us all this holiday season. Baci e abbracci a tutti.

Chianti comes to Houston January 13, 2022: seminar and trade tasting. Please come out and taste with me.

Above: I last visited Chianti in January 2020, not long before the lockdowns.

Please join me on Wednesday, January 13 in Houston for a tasting and seminar followed by a walk-around tasting of 20+ Chianti producers.

The event is part of the Chianti bottlers and growers association “Chianti Lovers U.S. Tour 2022.”

Click here to register.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to be presenting the seminar that day. And I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and colleagues for the first major wine event of 2022.

I hope you can join us. Glorious Sangiovese awaits!

“A draught of vintage!” Wine as a “shadow of a lie”: an enocentric reading of John Keats, the wine writer.

From the department of “de poëse”…

Above: a plaque outside the Keats-Shelley museum in Rome located in the palazzo where Keats died at age 25 (image via Wikipedia Creative Commons).

One of the observations uttered on Friday night (during a lively virtual reading and discussion of poetry accompanied by wine) was that John Keats, the Romantic poet, was a great wine writer. The text in question was what is arguably his most famous poem, one we all read (and hardly understood) in high school English class, “Ode to a Nightingale.”

“O, for a draught of vintage!” wrote Keats, probably referring to a wine (mostly likely a fortified wine) that was coveted for the high quality of its harvest:

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth…

Now, THAT is a great example of synaesthesia!

Tasting of Flora [with a capital F] and country green/Dance, and a Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!

What a verse!

But the one that gets me personally is the allusion to the “blushful Hippocrene,” the spring on Mt. Helicon, a body of water sacred to the Muses. Now THAT is a tasting note! 99+ points Robert Parker!

As much as our enocentric reading of the text, performed by none other than Edoardo Ballerini, thrilled the attendees, it was a closer look at the poem that raised eyebrows on Friday evening.

In the first half of the work, Keats alludes to wine as a source of solace and forgetting as he contemplates the ephemeral, fragile nature of human experience. But before the second part begins, “Bacchus and his pards” (his cronies, as it were) would not be the ones to lift him to reach the singing nightingale.

No, it would be “poesy” (nota bene: not poetry) whose wings he would ride:

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards…

Note the rhyme scheme (and more importantly the prosody) here. Brilliant imho. Poesy with a capital P.

It’s possible that Keats was referring to Francis Bacon’s observation that poesy is the wine of demons.

“One of the fathers [of the Church],” wrote Bacon in his essay “Of Truth,” “in great severity, called poesy vinum daemonum, because it filleth the imagination; and yet it is but with the shadow of a lie.”

That passage was later corrupted and transformed into the aphorism poetry is the Devil’s wine, an adage hegemonically read to mean poetry is the idle work of the Devil.

But what Bacon meant was that poesy, the act of creating art, or better yet, artifice could be likened to wine, a drink that seems to transcend the sum of its parts, so to speak, and go beyond the realm of human understanding — nec plus ultra.

Making art, as Bacon suggests and as Keats ponders throughout his writing, is something beyond human capacity. It is the lie, the artifice, that reveals a greater truth that could not be revealed otherwise (a concept central to the notion of the sublime).

It’s key to remember that the science of wine was still scarcely understood in Keats’ time (more than four decades before Pasteur would publish his studies on wine, to put it into context). For the Romantic poet, as for Bacon, an analogy between poesy and wine could be made for their shared ability to surpass human understanding.

Even though we know much more (although not all) about the science of wine today, the binomial wine and poesy (again, not wine and poetry) continues to pervade our ongoing fascination with the enoic stuff.

Enjoy the poem here. Happy reading!

Dante on the miracle of wine and life. A new translation worth checking out.

Our hearts and prayers go out to families impacted by the Kentucky tornados. Click here to learn how to donate to relief efforts (via the Lexington Herald Leader). As residents of Houston, we know all too well how natural disasters continue to affect families long after the media attention has waned. Please consider giving.

Above: “Dante and Statius Sleeping with Virgil Watching,” ink on tracing paper, after William Blake’s illustrations to the Divine Commedy, by John Linnell. Source: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Yale).

What a thrill to learn that the New York Review of Books published a new translation of Dante’s “Purgatory” earlier this year!

The excellent English rendering by poet D.M. Black fills a much bemoaned lacuna: while the “Inferno” has been translated countless times, often by leading poets, the “Purgatory” and “Paradise” have too often been relegated to seemingly hermetic English-language versions nearly impenetrable for the layperson of Dantean hermeneutics. This is owed in part to the challenges of translating the Purgatory and Paradise where Dante elevates the register of his language. It’s also owed to the fact that the Inferno, with all its blood and guts, has always been the most accessible and appealing to the greater reading public.

The drawing above, traced from William Blake’s illustration from the 27th canto of the Purgatory, shows Dante and the Roman poet Statius sleeping as Dante’s guide, Virgil, looks on. As they ascend the rings of Mount Purgatory, Virgil relies on Statius, a Christian, to explain “eternal truth[s]” of Christian theology that Virgil is unable to comprehend or explicate because of his pre-Christian status.

In the passage below, gleaned from the 25th canto, Statius explains to Dante how an embryo is transformed from a living being into a being with a soul.

In order to help Dante understand this miracle of G-d, Statius makes an analogy with how the heat of the sun transforms grape must into wine. It’s a powerful passage that, for reasons abundantly apparent, is of great interest to me.

I’m overjoyed to share the lines, transcribed here. But please check out the new translation, published on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death.

Open your heart now to the truth that follows:
and learn that in the embryo, as soon as
the brain’s articulation is completed,
to it, and joyfully, the Prime Mover [G-d] turns,
and in his joy at Nature’s handiwork
breathes a new breath into it full of power,
which takes what it finds active there and draws it
into its substance, creating a single soul
to live and feel and center on itself.
To make what I am saying less surprising,
think of the heat of the sun, that turns to wine
when joined with the juice the generous vine produces.

I’ll be discussing these lines, and acclaimed actor Edoardo Ballerini will be reciting them, on a Zoom call this Friday evening. Click here to learn more.

A brush with celebrity: taste with acclaimed actor Edoardo Ballerini and me as we discuss “the Devil’s wine,” Friday, December 17 (virtual event).

Above: acclaimed actor Edoardo Ballerini, “the voice of G-d,” as the New York Times recently called him (image via edoardoballerini.com).

You may remember him from shows like “The Sopranos” or “Law and Order.” You may have seen him in now cult films like “Dinner Rush” (where he played a celebrity chef and Sandra Bernhard played a food critic).

Edo (as we all affectionately call him) and I became good friends in Los Angeles thanks to his father, my dissertation advisor and friend Luigi Ballerini, the celebrated Italian poet and scholar.

But it wasn’t until fate brought me to Park Slope, Brooklyn in the late 1990s that we formed a deeper bond.

He had just been cast to play alongside Armand Assante in “Looking for an Echo” as an up-and-coming singer-songwriter. We were already hanging out in the city when he asked me if he could join my music crew’s almost nightly jam sessions at my apartment: he wanted to develop his guitar playing and singing for the role. “Tall boys and Marlboros” were the bywords of those days and man, what a time it was to be in Brooklyn playing music! So many great memories and stories from those days!

But when we connect next Friday evening for a Zoom call and wine tasting, Edo and I won’t be rehashing the good old days when people like us could still afford to live in Park Slope.

Instead, we’ll be discussing “the Devil’s Wine” — poetry.

He’ll be reading a selection of wine-hued poems and I’ll be tracing wine’s arc in Western culture as a source of mystery, wonder, and forbidden knowledge.

Oh and here’s the thing… In recent years, Edo has become the number-one narrator of audiobooks in the world today. I’m not shitting you! Check it out in the New York Times and the Guardian.

It’s always a sinfully delicious treat to hear him read. As the Times called him, he’s the “Vladimir Horowitz of his cohort.”

The virtual event is to be held next Friday, starting at 7:30 EST. It’s not a cheap date but it’s going to be a good one. And all the proceeds — Edo and I are both doing it pro bono — go to charity, in this case Animal Zone International.

Click here to register.

And what will we be tasting, you ask? Good question! Next week, I’ll be recommending wines, based on the location of the attendees, for all of our guests to open, although wine is not required.

The incredible story of how I met the inimitable Darrell Corti, Italian wine pioneer and gastronomic “treasure.”

Above: the deceptive facade of Corti Bros. offers little clue as to what treasure lies inside this storied structure.

Those who have never visited Darrell Corti’s legendary Corti Bros. “specialty grocers” in Sacramento, California will be surprised to discover that the store is much, much more than a mere retailer of great food and wine. The shop, they will find, occupies a space that also serves as museum, library, and bookshop.

In many ways, the food and wine at Corti Bros. is actually a “front.” Not in the sense of a criminal operation. But rather by virtue of the fact that the food and wine are a pretext for what 16th-century European humanists would have called a “gallery of memory.”

Above: a display of ravioli cutters dating back to the 16th century. Click the image for the “label” as we call it in museumspeak.

In Renaissance (with a capital R) Italy, knowledge was considered a means to power, like weapons or gold. And the key to knowledge, it was believed then, was memory. To bolster memory, humanists would create what Italian scholar Lina Bolzoni has called galleries of memory — physical spaces that helped them to organize and retain knowledge in their memory. They were actual rooms where the walls were covered with paintings, drawings, and writings.

Strolling around Darrell’s shop earlier this year, I couldn’t help but feel like I was traveling through Darrell’s mind, revisiting all the nuggets of knowledge — aesthetic and otherwise — that he has gathered over a lifetime of curiosity and unbridled gastronomic adventure. That space, I concluded, is his gallery of memory.

Above: breadcrumbs and books. How many food shops have you visited that double as a library? Darrell’s food and wine-focused collection rivals those found in some of the best libraries in the U.S. No joke. I’ve visited those libraries, too!

The story of how Darrell and I met is as funny as it is indicative of what a mensch – a wonderful human — that he is.

Not long before I visited Sacramento in the mid-aughts to make a record with my band Nous Non Plus there (at the famous Hangar, another great story for another time), I had traveled to Tuscany to meet with Baron Bettino Ricasoli, Francesco Riscasoli’s father. I was searching for a copy of his ancestor’s famous letter wherein he offers a “recipe” for the production of Chianti. It was one of the most memorable visits of my career and Bettino and Francesco were lovely. They pointed me to where I would find the letter and I later translated it for the blog.

During a luncheon of classic Tuscan-style tripe (Bettino’s favorite), the Baron asked me if I had ever met Darrell Corti. No, I told him. He said that if I ever were to visit Sacramento, I must absolutely seek out Darrell. My interest in food and wine history, he told me, reminded him of Darrell’s.

“If you ever do visit him,” he insisted, “please tell me that I sent you.”

Above: the dried pasta selection at Corti Bros. takes up an entire aisle — a “gallery of [culinary] memory.”

Not long after the band arrived in Sacramento, the keyboard player and I headed to Darrell’s place for supplies (I always cooked and served wine at our recording sessions).

When we arrived at the store, I asked one of the cashiers if Darrell was there. She said she didn’t know but would call the back office to find out.

“Please tell him that Baron Ricasoli sent me,” I told her. She said she would.

But here’s the thing: we were rockers. I had shoulder-length (if already thinning) dyed-sandy-blond hair, mustache and goatee. Ryan, the keys player, also had a mustache and goatee and dreadlocks that literally stretched below his waist.

When Darrell appeared, he was livid!

“Who are you?” he demanded with a tone that barely concealed his understandable annoyance.

“My name is Jeremy Parzen,” I answered, “and Baron Ricasoli has sent me with his regards.”

Darrell suddenly pivoted and began to walk away.

“Stay right there,” he said.

Nonplussed, Ryan and I were convinced that we were about to be expelled from his shop.

But when he reappeared, he had a book in his hands. It was my translation of Maestro Martino’s 15th-century recipe collection, published by UC Press a year or so earlier.

“Would you please sign this?” he asked me. And thus a friendship was born, one that has profoundly shaped my intellectual and professional life over countless conversations, emails, and the occasional meal.

When I saw Darrell earlier this year, he reveled in retelling the story.

“They looked like the kind you have to follow around the shop,” he told one of his employees.

Above: Darrell graciously let me snap this photo of us together, an image that I cherish greatly.

Once when I visited Darrell during the annual California grape growers conference (he was the keynote speaker), one of the attendees pulled me aside and asked me if I knew who he was.

“He’s a national treasure,” she whispered, the hushed timbre of her voice a reflection of her reverence.

I don’t know that my career as a food and wine historian would have been as rich had it not been for the role model that Darrell represented for me. His friendship has been a blessing in more ways that I can count.

Gratias tibi ago magister optime.

They launched a wine shop during the pandemic and they’re still going strong. Taste with me and two of Houston’s leading wine entrepreneurs this Friday.

Some may remember my post from September of last year, “How to open a wine shop during a pandemic,” about Vesper Wine owners and founders Aisha Savage-Shirley and James Oliver (above) who opened their retail program in Houston at the height of the lockdowns.

We had all become friends in 2019 after James took part in an Italy-America Chamber of Commerce trip to Vinitaly (I’m a consultant for the chamber).

I’ll never forget the last time we were all together, in the late fall of that year. We connected at another Houston wine shop and wine bar for what turned out to be a holiday party — one of the last before we were all stuck at home.

When I found out that they had decided to move forward with their plans for a new wine shop in an underserved neighborhood of our city, I called James to see if they would be up for a video chat to share on the blog.

You can view our chat on YouTube here. In the video, James explains how they swiftly reimagined their business model to focus on home delivery and curbside fulfillment. More than a year later, Vesper Wine is going strong and has expanded to in-store and off-site tastings as well.

On Friday of this week, James, Aisha, and I will be presenting a flight of three Italian wines paired with a menu from Roma restaurant (where I’m the wine director). We’ll also be spinning some Yé-Yé pop, a throwback to my rock ‘n’ roll days in New York with the French band Nous Non Plus.

It’s going to be a super fun event and tasting. And who knows where the night will lead us!

If you’re in Houston this week, please join us. Click here for details.