Since it’s Valentine’s Day I thought I’d reminisce about the first time I fell in love with wine.

Just after college graduation, my best friend worked at a liquor store in Washington D.C., stocking shelves and carting cases of wine out to customers’ cars. I thought that having a friend with access to booze discounts was a great boon at the tender age of 22, so I’d often stop in the store on a Friday after work to say “hi” to my friend and hopefully get a discount.  Sometimes when I’d visit my friend I’d also get treated to a war story from a regular customer who was a World War II vet. This elderly gent usually picked up a case of  Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone.

Up until that point in my life, Boone’s Farm was the extent of my palate. I thought of real wine as something sipped by stodgy connoisseurs  or something reserved strictly for adults at high-class dinner parties, so I asked the war veteran why he always got a case of that wine. His face broke out into a huge grin and he proceeded to tell me another story about his time in the military. That particular wine reminded him exactly of the wine he used to drink while stationed in the French Rhone river valley after the war. It reminded him of his crush on a pretty French girl he knew.

As unbelievable as it may sound, this simple story changed my opinion of wine. I bought a bottle of the Parallele 45 for myself, and fell head over heels for this spicy red. Knowing the place that wine held in the WWII vet’s life made me think about wine as more than just a pleasing taste, the perfect pairing with a meal or even getting drunk. Wine can be a memory of an important, formative time in your life. When I buy a bottle of the 45 now, I’m reminded of how exciting it was to be fresh out of college with a new career in the nation’s capital, surrounded by great friends who I still have to this very day. When I sip that wine today I like to think about all the possibilities the future holds.

So, when was the first time you discovered your love for wine?