Queerness has always required a reimagining of intimacy and community.
Without guidelines for what our love looks like, we grow up defining it for ourselves, creating spaces among those we care for most and affirming what love might mean for us, what it could be.
Is that not what a good bottle of wine does, too? It surprises you, invites you in, imagines something new. That’s why I think that wine is no doubt best experienced in the hands of gay women.
Several fond memories over the last few years, with women I’ve loved and love, bring to mind the same kind of wonder and romance that good wine inspires.
We grow up defining it for ourselves, creating spaces among those we care for most and affirming what love might mean for us, what it could be. Is that not what a good bottle of wine does, too?
On one of my earliest dates with my first-ever girlfriend, for example, we sat cocooned at a corner table at a wine bar in Chicago’s Logan Square, having just seen Zadie Smith read. We huddled over our signed copies of her newest book, gushing, warm, splitting a bottle of whatever we could afford between the two of us.
More recently, while still trying to woo my current girlfriend, I gave her a bottle of Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme’s Le Telquel, mostly because of the wiener dog illustration on the label (she herself has a dachshund). It’s a jammy and herbaceous Gamay with a little bit of Cabernet Franc—round and uncomplicated. We opened it up on a winter night, hours into a date we couldn’t bear to finish, and drank it breathlessly, eagerly, already in love but too nervous to admit it.
Sharing a bottle of something wonderful with those who are truly ready to enjoy it, those you feel most connected to—wine lovers, queer family or both—reaffirms that which is often missing in our tired and busy lives: Our pleasure and our closeness to each other are worthwhile and sustaining.
This past October, desperate for human connection and some semblance of normalcy, my girlfriend and I, along with two of our friends (also gay women), left Chicago for a Wisconsin lakehouse. We packed the car full of food, books, DVDs and nine bottles of wine. The days were slow and peaceful; by the time the night’s dinner was over, we pushed our plates aside and settled in for what would become hours of drinking wine, relishing the gayness we had all to ourselves.
One of the last bottles we opened that weekend was Ori Marani’s Laora, a Georgian traditional method sparkling rosé. This is an almost uncomfortably romantic wine, soothing and lush, and wonderfully satisfying to share. All of us, flushed and full of joy, drank it slowly and rapturously.
The intimate kinship that exists between lesbians around a table together, a good bottle of wine between us, was magic.