I love how conversation evolves when I’m with friends who are imbibing, especially if some of the friendships are newer than others.

Generally (and although I dislike generalizations this one has fit many of my scenarios fairly well), friendship conversations have three phases: research, experimentation, and development. Yes, these are phases of many things scientific – but they can also be used to describe the evolution of conversation among newly acquainting people.

For example, this weekend my fella and I met a new-to-us couple and a current (mutual) friend for dinner. The new-to-us couple cooked and I provided wine – it was to be a merry-making evening under the guise of event planning (we’re all involved in our local art gallery).

Phase I: research (“When I lived in a warehouse in Australia…”)

The first wine of the night was a 2009 Pinot Gris from Wild Goose Vineyards. My fella and I chatted with the new-to-us couple while we awaited the mutual friend. Bright, with light acidity, playful and not entirely serious, the wine was a perfect accompaniment to our learning about each other. We eventually remembered to include some snacks after most of the bottle was consumed – a good sign of things to come.

Phase II: experimentation (Me: “I’m going to make shoes this winter – I have a pair I think I can copy.” New friend: “Really? I want to do that, too!” <runs to get example>)

Our second wine of the night was the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Fairview Cellars. I love Bill’s wine (Bill Eggert is the proprietor, grower, and winemaker). We sipped this big, earthy cab while noshing on roast venison – a stellar combination. It’s at the second bottle in that the newly acquainted start to experiment a bit more, finding areas of relating and testing the waters to see how deep those connections might go.

Phase III: development (“…and that’s the last time I ran drugs for anyone.”)

By the third bottle, it’s game on. Once the initial research has met specific criteria, and the parties involved have experimented to determine the strength of those connections, the new friendship is forged. There’s no going back now. It’s during the third bottle – Poplar Grove Wine’s 2006 The Legacy (Bordeaux-style blend); large, round, and lingering – that entering a conversation half-way can provide an excellent soundbite out of context. See example above.

There were more than three glasses consumed in this evening, and I believe it was fruitful yet productive. We explored fundraising ideas (from gala auctions to occupied public spaces with graffiti art), exchanged tall tales (that drug-running story), and laughed way too much. An existing friendship was reinforced, and a new one was solidified.

I won’t delve into the Chilean pinot noir that arrived sometime during dinner, nor will I remark in detail about the Australian botrytis-affected semillion that appeared for dessert. In this experiment, those would be considered a “lurking variable” whose influence may skew the outcomes.

~ Jeannette


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