For the past four years, I have had the pleasure of helping a small but growing fund-raising effort to aid So Others Might Eat
(SOME), a Washington, D.C., charity that helps feed the homeless. This
benefit dinner, held on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, began in 2007
in boom times, but has grown dramatically since the economy faltered in
2008, a testament to the dedication and hard work of its founders, a
young couple named Kristopher and Tracey Schroeder. And well, maybe also
to the generosity that wine inspires in all of us? This past Thursday, Uncorked DC had about 130 people gathered at Clyde’s of Gallery Place,
at $100 a plate, to eat turkey and the trimmings and sample seven wines
Kris and I selected. I was the nominal headline speaker, but of course
people wanted to eat, drink and have fun, so I kept my remarks short. I
didn’t totally wing it, but I didn’t have my remarks written out in
advance either. So these are what I said, filtered through my memory of
how I said it and how I wish I’d said it:
ā€œWine is bottled poetry,ā€ wrote
Robert Louis Stevenson. Like poetry, wine can inspire us and reveal
hidden meanings – in what, I donā€™t know. Perhaps it can lift the veil
from our inner thoughts, or give us an insight into life that we had
nearly but not quite perceived. In vino veritas, as it were.
also inspires generosity. Iā€™ve never met a miserly wine lover.
Spendthrift wine lovers, to be sure – Iā€™ve met people who live in
apartments cramped and stacked floor to ceiling with cases of wine, who
wear clothes until they fall apart no matter how many trends ago they
were – if ever that sweater was fashionable. And yet these same people
will come up to you and say, ā€œYouā€™ve GOT to try this grand cru
Good wine demands to be shared. We donā€™t like to
drink it alone – at least, most of us donā€™t, although it is nice to
enjoy the last bit of a fine bottle after your guests are gone. We all
have a special bottle or two that are dying a slow and ignominious death
in our cellars, our closets, wherever we keep our wine, because we
donā€™t know who to share them with. The Johnsons are coming to dinner.
Oh no, not them! They arenā€™t special enough for THAT bottle! Why not
open it tonight? What, with MEATLOAF?
You donā€™t see beer
dinners for charity, or whisky auctions to benefit the homeless. Wine,
however, does somehow spark such largess. Thereā€™s the Napa Valley Wine
Auction each summer, and a rival one in Sonoma County, and proceeds go
to charity. Here in Washington we have Heartā€™s Delight, a three-day Bacchanal that I am affiliated with, and if you feel charitable next May, I heartily recommend it.
see this generosity in all of you here tonight, willing to dine on the
very same meal of turkey and all the trimmings that you will have next
Thursday – and for several days after that – in order to support a
worthy cause: to help feed the homeless. This is the fourth year for
Uncorked DC, and the third time we have met when the economy has been
unfavorable. That the dinner has continued to grow and is now
overflowing this room is a tribute to Kris and Tracey Schroeder for
organizing it, but also to all of you who have helped and supported
Wineā€™s generosity also inspires thanksgiving. Not so much
the holiday, but the gratitude. As Ben Franklin wrote to a friend, the
miracle at the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine, was
not so special – because it happens all the time.
rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards,ā€ he wrote.
ā€œThere it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a
constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.ā€
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!