I almost forgot, it was Hayley’s birthday in a couple of days! Since we’d gone to different colleges it had been hard to keep track. We used to have parties at her house. She’d invite people over and her parents would make themselves scarce. I’d stay the night and we’d spend the following day together chatting about the night before… Good times! But now things were different, I was a long way away and I missed her badly. I didn’t know what to give her but she always sent me such lovely things so I had to find something good.
OK, let’s see… First I thought of clothes but decided against it. I didn’t know what she needed, what the right size would be and who could tell how whatever I chose would look on her? Giving clothes is hard from a distance, and a gift card was far too impersonal. Where was the love? Some kind of memento from a TV series or film I know she likes? Naahhh… Everyone has stuff like that at college. It needed to be something nice, something that reflected who she was and that expressed our friendship. A hug from afar.
We hadn’t spoken in a while, so I was sure she thought I’d forgotten. But no: I was going to surprise her. Hayley likes a lot of the same things I do but she was always more chilled out, less anxious. She liked to be with her cats, drink coffee, and spend hours listening to music and reading. It was what made her happy. So I could have given her a book but she has to study so hard she’d never get time to read it. What to do? The answer came from an unexpected source: Dad (WTF!?) He suggested I send wine. Wine? How about an Argentine Malbec? But which?
“An Argentine Malbec makes for the perfect gift. It’s delicious, elegant, subtle and comes in all kinds of different styles.”
It set me thinking. In addition to what he said, I thought wine was a practical gift. I didn’t have much time and I had to get something right away. So I took the plunge: that night I did a search for Argentine Malbec. Where to begin? At first all the different options seemed overwhelming: dozens of bottles of different colors, labels and flavors in a whole range of prices. Choosing the right Argentine Malbec as a gift seemed too much, it was a whole new universe. But I took a deep breath and re-focused. Let’s take this step by step.
First, I looked up recommendations on how to choose a wine. People said that if you’re going to a party, sparkling wines are great and whites too because they can be drunk cold or even with ice cubes. Well… that wasn’t right. Reds, however, are good for dinner, reading a book or sharing quality time with someone. A Zoom call even… the versatility appealed.
After I’d done a little research, I knew that a red was the way to go. They make a heartfelt gift and I could picture Hayley swirling her glass while she got ready for a big exam, lost among her notes and highlighters. A red then. I wanted it to be something special, something original. I went on reading and found recommended wines from a lot of different countries: France, Spain, Italy, Argentina…
Giving Argentine Malbec as a gift… which one?
Argentina? That’s unusual. The country’s most famous wine is a red called ‘Malbec’ and has a fruity aroma of cherries or plums said the caption underneath a photograph of a vineyard in front of a range of big snow-capped mountains. The region where the vineyard was located was called Mendoza.
Well, this was getting interesting for several reasons: firstly, the landscape was gorgeous but the cherries made me think of the fruit muffins Hayley and I used to eat in New York. I loved our teas at Eileen’s special cheesecake, nearby Little Italy. That got me thinking: can you eat something sweet with red wine?
I went back to my research. I typed “Mendoza Malbec” into the search engine and got a result from Wine.com, an online store. When I clicked through the page filled up with bottles of wine from Argentina and they were all Malbecs from Mendoza. There were so many different prices and labels that I didn’t know where to turn but at least I knew I was getting somewhere. I rearranged the list by price and started to go through it.
I found several Argentine Malbecs that were already prepared as gifts. I chose the ones I liked best. One looked like a dream: Krontiras Malbec Natural; others, Norton Reserva Malbec and Trapiche Oak Cask, looked classical, like my dad. Some had tools on them like Benmarco Sin Límites Malbec while another, Serbal Malbec had a picture of a red tree.
Ok, I was getting closer. I filtered the list again, going with my gut. Just then Cookie, my cat, meowed: it was feeding time. When I got back to the computer I said to myself: OK, I’ve made my choice. I was sure that Hayley would like it. I placed the order for Hayley’s address and went to bed.
Days went by. I was about to forget all about Hayley’s birthday again when I got a message on Instagram. It was a photo: my friend was holding up a glass full of dark red wine and toasting the camera: “Thank you so much for the present, my dear friend. Miss U’ I was so happy, I was desperate to give her a big hug. I missed her so much…
But I was also curious about the wine. I wanted to know what it tasted like. Then I remembered that there’s a wine shop nearby, close to the subway. I decided to find out more about Argentine wine… there’s something about the world that intrigues me, I’m eager to learn!
Oh, I’ve done all this talking and I haven’t even introduced myself! My name is Nicole, but everyone calls me Nicky. I hope we get to know each other. Why not start with a question: are you curious about Argentine wine too?