Fun with Wine at the Penn Club

One of the benefits of membership at the Penn Club is a free birthday dinner. Since the benefit expires after two months, and the dining room is closed in August, last night was our last chance to cash in Margaret’s chit. So, on the hottest day of the year so far, Margaret and I met at the club.

As he led us to our table, Tony pointed out the activity taking place on the other side of the room. Elin McCoy, the wine editor for Bloomberg News, was officiating at a photo shoot of grower champagne. Naturally, I took a walk over and introduced myself. There were about a dozen open bottles on a table, including some of our favorites. While I inspected the bottles, Elin had to run off to meet a deadline. I chatted with her two assistants – or so I assumed them to be – pointing out a few bottles that were not actually growers, since instead of the requisite RM they sported NM in tiny letters on the label.

“I love to learn new things,” the young woman said. The young man made notes.

Returning to Margaret, I took my seat and ordered dinner. I had Blue Points and filet mignon. Margaret had cold cucumber soup and sole. She drank rosé; I drank rioja. When the dessert cart rolled around, I chose mocha cake, Margaret chose carrot cake. Tony, who knows how much we enjoy dessert wine, brought over a complimentary late harvest sauvignon blanc from Paumanok Vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island. The wine was rich and concentrated, expressing apricots and other dried stone fruit. It was from the 2009 vintage; the 2010, according to Tony, is even better.

When we got up from the table, we wished Tony and the staff a wonderful vacation month, then dropped in on the photo shoot. Elin was back, sealing the opened bottles. She offered us a couple to take home, which we happily did, specifically, Egly-Ouriet and H. Billiot Fils. As we gathered up our swag, Robin Kelly O’Connor walked in.

And who might he be? I met Robin when I worked at Sherry-Lehmann. At that time, he was one of America’s foremost authorities on Bordeaux. He is now the Head of Wine, Americas, for Christie’s. I was delighted to see him again. My days at Sherry-Lehmann were a fantastic education, thanks in part to Robin.

We caught a cab on Sixth Avenue and rode home in air-conditioned comfort. If a wonderful meal and fine wine, accompanied by a serendipitous meeting of new and old wine friends, plus a swag bag, does not epitomize the spirit of Fun with Wine, then I’ll trade in my corkscrew and drink water from now on.

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