The past few weeks have been hectic at work but I have not been using that as an excuse to neglect opportunities to socialize and enjoy myself. Two weeks ago I was honored to be asked to speak at the Petroleum Club of Houston‘s annual French-American wine dinner.
The PCH’s wine dinners are always extraordinary affairs, very elegant and well coordinated. During my three years on the Wine Committee, I helped select the wines to pair with the themed menus for the dinners and usually presented at least one wine at each dinner. Presentations ranged from serious and informative to fun and entertaining–naturally I usually tried to combine the two.
Of the nine wine dinners each year, my favorite was always the Classic, a glorious black-tie affair at which every wine poured was rated “Classic” (95 points or greater). A very close second, though, was the French-American. At this dinner two wines are served with each course, one French and one American. They are of the same varietal/blend and are served blind. The presenters for each course then withhold the revelation of which is which until the very end, often only after teasing the attendees with evidence that could point in either direction. Needless to say, I was looking forward to my first PCH French-American wine dinner in three years.
As always the food was exquisite, many of the wines were superb, and the company was incomparable. I presented the dessert course wines with my co-conspirator and favorite wingman, Cox. Three years ago we co-presented the main course wines at this dinner. I dressed as Napoleon while he dressed as George Washington and we held a French-American debate that transcended the boundaries of just wine. We knew we needed to follow that up with another rousing debate but we wanted to do something a little different.
And so it was that we conducted this wine talk with . . . puppets. Cox played the role of Wine Monster (Cookie Monster‘s twin brother), representing the US, while I presented as Kermitage Le Frog, obviously representing France. Our talk was mostly on the silly side since, by the dessert course, most attendees have already had eight glasses (or more) of wine and attention spans for wine geek facts are low. This turned out to bite us in the butt as well, though; by the time we took the podium, Cox was so inebriated that he could barely read the words of our talk. No worries, though; I think that actually enhanced our presentation value. The talk was well received and we had a grand time.
Later that same weekend I co-hosted a wine event for the seniors of Lovett College at Rice University. This was a great event that brought students, faculty, staff, and alumni together, added five very nice wines for lubrication, and produced great conversations and new connections among all. I wish we had had such an event when I was a senior but I at least hope to participate in many more as an alum.
Last week Katie and I met up with some of her work colleagues for dinner at Rudi Lechner’s for German cuisine. We departed from wine in favor dark German beer (Spaten Optimator) and feasted on spatzle, zucchini bread, and fresh baked pretzels with rich mustard. A two-man band with accordion, brass, and alphorns kept us entertained and even got us out on the make-shift dance floor for the chicken dance. Awesome!
Just last night we received an urgent call from friend and former Lovett president, Rizzo, who needed to fill out his trivia team for Seinfeld night at Little Woodrow’s. As Katie and I are in the middle of watching every episode of Seinfeld, we couldn’t resist. Actually, we tried to resist, but when I learned that they had Guinness on tap, I was sold! It was a great night even though we only took third place. If only Katie and I had finished all of the Seinfeld seasons, I’m sure we would have won it all!