On Grief: How I Mourn a Lost Parent Through Wine

Photo courtesy Céline Bossart

There are so many pieces of myself that I owe to my dad. He was my hero, my protector, my inspiration on many levels. He led a life of travel through his work and inspired me to do the same. Almost as much as the act of travel itself, he loved to drink along the way. I remember the wines he would bring back from his work trips, usually Bordeaux.

The sound of a cork breaking free from its bottle will always remind me of my dad, as will the taste of any tannic red. I remember taking my first sip of wine (or pinard, as they call it in his native northern France) from his glass as a little girl. In retrospect, I pursued a career in wine largely to make my dad proud.

My dad was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of lymphoma during the height of the pandemic, and he passed within 10 days. I was, and still am, absolutely shattered and in a perpetual state of shock. My grief is compounded by the general state of the world that surrounds the bubble that is my new life at home.

From the day after his death, it felt natural to reach for a bottle of wine, and I did so liberally for the first few days, sipping from glasses that reminded me of him the most. Though staying mindful of my consumption and well-being, I sought comfort and connection in wine.

I opened and savored bottles that I know he would have been overjoyed to share with me. I used the wine key I’d given him as a Christmas gift several months before. It still had his fingerprints on it.

There is something about trauma that begs to be balanced by some semblance of positivity or silver lining. For me, that came in the form of working toward an accreditation. I’d long been meaning to take the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 Award in wines but never had the time—that is, before the world slowed down, anyway.

Over the next five weeks, I studied, tasted and repeated until my virtual proctored exam, during which I felt the lightest of touches on my back as I sat. He gave me so much in his physical life and continues to do so now, knowing I’ll be sipping for the both of us.

Published on November 22, 2020
Topics: Last Drop