Friday, March 8, 2019


One day Denise, an attractive young technologist, came into my office, “I recall you mentioned a while ago that you said Beethoven was one of your favorite composers. I play the cello in our town’s orchestra and next Sunday we will be playing Beethoven’s Symphony No.8. Would you and Connie like to come?”  I readily accepted. “ Please come for lunch,” she said.

On a bright Sunday morning in October, Connie and I drove in our little red sports car out on Long island to Port Washington. Denise came out to meet us and ushered us into her house where her father, a Swiss gentleman, welcomed us with a generous glass of single malt Scotch. Connie wisely declined. He led us into a dining area where we were introduced to Denise’s mother, and we chatted for a while. Her mother served us a delicious quiche and a salad. Her father opened a bottle of a white wine and poured some for everyone. We all toasted Denise’s coming performance. “This wine is good,” I said. “What is it?” Her father smiled and poured another glass for me. “It’s just Neuchatel, a Swiss wine. I will give you a bottle to take home.”

I must confess that I dosed off during the last two movements of the symphony. We thanked Denise and her parents and drove home with Connie at the wheel.

The next night I suggested that we open the gift bottle of Neuchatel with our dinner. I tasted it and said, ”This one is on the turn, and we  poured it down the drain.”

The following day, Denise asked me how I liked the wine, and I told her that it was spoiled. “That’s unusual,” she said, “I’ll bring you another bottle.”   A few days later, we tried the second bottle of Neuchatel. It was a repeat of the previous one. “Let’s see if we can find a bottle of Neuchatel in the liquor store,” I suggested. Connie found one and brought it home. We opened it and tasted with high expectations only to be disappointed again. “The whole shipload must have somehow gone bad,” I said. Let’s forget the whole thing.

The day after Christmas I sat in our apartment admiring Connie’s gift. It was beautiful coffee table book devoted to wine, and profusely illustrated. As I thumbed through the pages, I came upon a photo of a wine I recognized as Neuchatel. There was a complete description of the wine. “The Swiss refer to this wine as petillant, which means that is a almost but not quite as bubbly as champagne.”  I then realized, with a big mental ‘oops’, that I was too Scotch-impaired to recognize the true taste of Neuchatel at Denise’s and had discarded three good bottles!

Connie and I have developed a taste for Neuchatel. It pairs well with fondue and other Swiss dishes.

Are there any wines have you tried and would recommend to your friends?

The title quote is by Puck, the fairy, in Shakespeare’s Mid-Summer Nights’ Dream.