Aging California Wine & Friday the 13th.

I’m not a big believer in the superstition of the luckiness or lack of in the number thirteen. Most buildings opt out of “naming” a 13th floor, even though the 14th is the 13th. But that opens up a whole other albatross. This year we’ve got two sequential months each with a Friday the 13th – February and March. And we’ll get another this coming November.ZZ2C081EF4.jpg

That’s three purportedly unlucky days this year. The last year so many Friday the 13th’s were found on the calendar was 1987 — infamous for the famous stock crash that year. Given the state of the economy so far this year and the jockeying and posturing going on in Washington and on Wall Street, maybe I need to harbor my jaded beliefs — at least temporarily. Three Friday the 13th’s in 2009. For each of the last two years and the next two we’ll only be saddled with a single unlucky day. This does make Friday the 13th 2009 rather unique.

“The number 13 has been unlucky for centuries. Some historians peg the superstition to the thirteen people who attended the Last Supper (neither Jesus nor Judas came out of that one OK), but ancient Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi omits the number 13 in its list of law […] In 1881 an organization called The Thirteen Club attempted to improve the number’s bad reputation. At the first meeting, the members (all 13 of them) walked under ladders to enter a room covered with spilled salt. The club lasted for many years and grew to over 400 members, including five U.S. presidents: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Despite the club’s efforts, triskaidekaphobia (that’s fear of the number 13) flourished; even today, most tall buildings don’t have a 13th floor.

The number’s association with Friday, however, didn’t take hold until the 20th century. In 1907, eccentric Boston stockbroker Thomas Lawson published a book called Friday the Thirteenth, which told of an evil businessman’s attempt to crash the stock market on the unluckiest day of the month. […] Wall Street’s superstitions about Friday the 13th continued through 1925, when the New York Times noted that people “would no more buy or sell a share of stock today than they would walk under a ladder or kick a black cat out of their path.” Some stock traders also blamed Black Monday — Oct. 19, 1987 — on the fact that three Fridays fell on the thirteenth that year. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute estimates that $700-$800 million dollars are lost every Friday the 13th due to people’s refusal to travel, purchase major items, or conduct business. […]”



IMG_4502_2.jpgSo while I looked for a 1987 vintage wine in my cellar last night, the closest I could come without digging too deep was a 1991 Mount Veeder Reserve Meritage. I had stood the wine up a few days prior so any sediment would’ve settled. Decanting the wine I ensured a clean sediment free pours. After a few moments the wine revealed mild tobacco, cedar and dried cherry notes on the nose. Distinctively brick red and showing a tinge of browning in color. On the palate the wine revealed a harmonious blend of dark fruits and dried cranberry with a delicate balance and refined tannic structure. The old lady showed her age but exhibited a degree of maturity and structure one could only be attracted to. Smooth, complex and simply enjoyable. A fantastic reward for holding the wine for more than a decade. 89 points.

I threw the book of rules out the window in choosing my menu for the evening. I prepared a meal more suited to a big chardonnay or light pinot. But oddly enough it worked. I coated Mahi Mahi fillets with a mixture of crushed almonds, panko breadcrumbs, parsley and held together with a tad of butter and egg white. The almond-based crusted mixture was toasted and seared on the stove top before finishing baking in the oven. Served with mango salsa, a almond rice pilaf and oven roasted asparagus, it was a meal to remember. Ahhh. That triangle is a bit of flat-bread season with s&p and some herbs of provence and lighted coated with fresh parmesan. And to cook again. Maybe in November on Friday the 13th eve – and maybe the bad luck by then will be behind all of us.

Time will tell.

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