March 17, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Hunt for Wines of 1912 & My Personal Let-Down

Day 23, Day 24? I’m not sure anymore. I had committed to 40 Days of Writing. 40 Days of writing the truest sentences about wine, I could muster.

My last post included days 9, 10 and 11, and shows a photograph of my late night note-taking at The Richardson in Brooklyn about the “Titanic” dinner event I’m collaborating on for April 14. There’s a wine-story here, but first, permit me this:

Since that night, it would not be incorrect to say that I’ve been a bit under water with this project. In an effort to pay homage to the spirit of the Titanic, my hope is to create a window into what it might have been like to be a diner aboard the very vessel the world was all-too-gaga over; so the aim is to re-imagine the moments during the last meal when exuberance, ecstasy and the thought of getting into New York a day early, all that…was in the hearts and minds of the passengers.

I offered to call the event 41°North, 49°West – the coordinates where the Titanic hit the iceberg and sank. This was accepted by “Team Titanic” as I’ve come to call them: and though we are a team, I am the Visionary. I am the lone visionary out to sea.

And I have a vision: I have a belief. I believe that if we all believe in the power of persuasion – the power of the imagination – I believe we can spend one evening changing the course of history. I believe we can imagine a world in which perhaps, tragedy is non-existent. This event is for me, the Anti-Tragedy of this century, and I intend to make good  on delivering this vision to the 80 diners who attend.

But to the point: I have failed in my promise to write every day, one true thing about wine. Now… no one is going to fire me. I’m not going to be stripped of medals I never won and if people stop asking for my autograph, it’ll likely be because they never asked for it in the first place. However folk: that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve let myself down.

Matthew Homyak of the Stag Dining Group (based in San Francisco) recently shared this video, of Ira Glass talking about perseverance in storytelling. In it, Ira talks about let-down and persistence as the vehicles for success. And with successful storytellers, there is a common denominator: work, work, work, to the point of breaking and indulging in the ever-elusive necessity to create something better than was just created.

Have I worked as hard as I could? I don’t know. But what constitutes “hard work”? Writing is hard work and not always fun. Sometimes it’s fun. I had a good deal of fun writing “Farm!” a new Jonny Cigar spectacle, however after re-reading it recently, I know it needs a lot of work and that – I’m not looking forward to.

I haven’t solutions to my circumstance, so for now let’s turn to 1912.

In our efforts to re-imagine the last meal aboard the Titanic, our hope is not to replicate the 1912 experience. Rather, we plan to present this meal as it would be presented in 2012. Our only rule was that the wines poured should come from wineries that have been in existence since 1912 or before and were likely poured – very likely poured – in the Jacobean dining room (the name given the first-class dining hall).

And we’ve been successful thanks to a very special wine consultant, who I shall introduce in a separate post. She is a Master of Wine and I am honored, flattered and thrilled that she is working with us to source these wines — the real benefactors will be the diners, which is after all the idea.

The Truest Sentence I Can Write About Wine today is one of familiarity: In wine there is truth.

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