“Of the moment”

“Our first day at the Johnston bus stop was a cluster that included kids running away from their bus stop TWICE, me realizing Finley had no shoes and had lost her new glasses as the bus was in sight (they’re at Burlington Coat Factory, FYI), and a neighbor regaling all the bus stop kids about the day in third grade she saw a kid get his head rolled over by a bus wheel and die. Happy first day.” Morgan Kent Molden of Johnston, Iowa, writes on Instagram.

Six bottles of wine sit in front of us on the oval table, deep underground in Beaune, France. Emmanuel Paulson is our guide for this tasting adventure.

“I don’t speak very well English,” he says at the start.

A heck of a lot better than my French, which, of course, is limited to the words from songs out of the musical Camelot. I’m not much help.

“I was born here in Beaune, France. Which means that I was born in the wine. I’m 41. My family, my father, my grandfather and now me. For us, wine is a way of life.”

No kidding. Earlier, my wife and I had hiked up into the surrounding vineyards that back up against the walls of the town. Miles and miles of small plots separated by stone walls shaped way before our time.

“In Burgundy, we just want to retranscribe, is the expression, from terroir. Of course, it’s some chardonnay grapes for our white wine, pinot noir grapes for our red wine, but that is too simple. We have some unique terroir with some great soil and subsoil. That is extremely important for us. If you compare with Coca Cola — if you drink a Coca Cola in the United States or here, it is the same thing, because it is a recipe. Our wine in Burgundy is not a recipe.”

Nor is raising kids.

Morgan Kent Molden writes on Instagram: “When my kids go quiet, it usually ends with a mess.”

“Today, I found Fin and Cece here. But earlier, Cece brought me the decapitated head of a Barbie and said she was going to eat it,” Morgan Kent Molden writes.

Emmanuel hands us our first glass of wine.

“This wine is something different. With something to eat, a delicate fish, a goat cheese, it is more complex. This wine is more buttery, a little like honey.”

It IS buttery. It IS like honey. And, by golly, it WOULD taste great with a delicate fish. Although I’m fairly certain that if Emmanuel with his French hat would have said the wine tastes like old tennis shoes, I would have responded equally enthusiastically: “It is like old tennis shoes! I’ll take several bottles.”

On to the next bottle.

“This is a feminine wine. It is pretty and velvet. Smokey to the nose and red fruit to the mouth. Raspberry and strawberry. We do not have full wines in Burgundy. We have long wines. Complexity is more important than a large wine.”

Okay, is this where the poetry of the Song of Solomon came from?

“The next wine is very spicy. First choice vineyard. We don’t put pepper into the wine. That is the wine. It is a complex wine.”

And so it goes.

But, Emmanuel, what is the best wine?

“It is very personal. The best wine is the one you like. That is it.”


Bedtime. Room on the Broom is the story of choice. Morgan Kent Molden writes on Instagram, “Is there room on the broom for a . . . face palm?!”

It is the end of the day for us also. The last tour is gone. The cavern is quiet except for the distant sound of dripping water. The wines are all back on the oval table. We drink the last sip. Emmanuel raises his glass critically, looks at the color and texture of the wine.

“The most important is of the moment. The wine creates some emotion with friends and family and with your wife. That is more important. What do you eat? That is important. But the moment is important. Enjoy the life. My opinion, no?”





5 thoughts on ““Of the moment”

  1. Oh Joe , what a practiced eye you have to weave that story between Emmanuel in his French cave and suburban American mayhem. It made me laugh to think of Morgan and Emmanuel magically trading places, putting Morgan into bliss and Emmanuel into abject horror. Loved it ❤️

  2. Your photos are lovely and your story is so good, as usual, and it reminded me of so many things. I was lucky to have tasted wine in Beaune as well though it was quite a long time ago and I’ve parented young children before, also in the long ago. I admire anyone who documents the ups and downs of that last one. It’s easy to take pictures in a vineyard with no kids hanging on your belt, just an extra lens for your camera but in an ideal world, I hope there is some of both. I’m pretty sure that French people don’t give up wine when they have kids but I’ve read they tend to put their kids to bed early and eat late, especially when they are little.
    I was reminiscing recently about yearly trips to Chicago with my girlfriends every President’s Day, where we could cross big city streets without holding hands (unless we wanted to) and had no juice boxes or hand wipes in our stylish bags that we never used at home. We’d drink too much wine, eat very late, maybe even sneak a cigarette and talk all night but when Sunday came, after we had been to a museum and had seen a play and had one last lunch, we were ready to head home to our kids. And if we had planned ahead, there’d be a glass of wine when we got there.

  3. HI Joe, Your last two epic stories had me from the start.. Horses and buses. One i love to ride and the other i must love to drive. I will take the wine horseback on the bus may be risky.. Keep writing and living the good life. Oh and ride a horse to a bus stop.. xxoo

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