A vintage memory

Austin wasn’t always the big wine-bibbing town that it is now. There was a time when Reuben’s (sponsor of Les Amis du Vin), UT Union informal classes (plenty to sample), Wiggy’s (also great at the time for stocking Passing Cloud cigarettes), the edited collection at Kash-Karry (now Fresh Plus), and the giant collection at Dan’s Cellars (on South Congress, now St. Vinnie’s) accounted for most of what there was that wasn’t on the menu at a pricey restaurant or packaged in boxes or screw-top jugs for at-home (or on-street) consumption. Dan of Dan’s promoted purchases of mixed cases from his encyclopedic inventory and also supplied at least some of the instructional staff at the Union informal classes. It was a big deal when H-E-B experimented with selling wine in bottles stopped with corks. At the end of the beer aisle was an end-cap bin containing a few select bottles of something-or-other nestled in ice. There was a chalkboard on which was scrawled this advice: “Try this. Great with catfish and tamales!” What that miraculous wine was is lost to memory, but “great with catfish and tamales” has been a family joke ever since, always mentioned when tamales are on the table (as they were for at suppertime yesterday, that old Austin hometown favorite, Rosita’s pork with jalapenos, accompanied by that new Austin hometown favorite, Jaime’s Spanish Village Restaurant hot tomatillo jalapeno garlic sauce). Iced tea, also a most versatile beverage, stood in for the storied wine so great with catfish and with tamales.

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