This day has been circled in red for many in Philadelphia for close to a year–today is the official start of the Apopecalypse (otherwise known as Apopealooza or the Apopeageddon). Tonight, at approximately 6:00 p.m., the U.S. Secret Service takes control of our little town and creates an effective prison around our immediate neighborhood.
I had originally planned to have a Wine Dinner this week at our local restaurant, but given the fact that virtually no one seems to be left here in our neighborhood, it was probably a good idea to postpone the dinner until after all the madness subsides.
I am torn about the whole Pope thing–on one side I am proud of our little neighborhood, hosting perhaps the most internationally well-known individual (after the leader of the free world, Joe Roberts). On the other, it makes our lives a bit more difficult than they already are: Streets have been closed since Monday (the pope does not even get to Philly until tomorrow), my older son has been out of school since Tuesday afternoon and does not go back until this coming Tuesday (the school district, perhaps the worst run in the U.S. has decided to make up the time by taking days away from Spring Break), and while we are allowed to use our car, if we drive it outside our neighborhood, we are not allowed to come back.
There is also a bit of craziness going on:
- I heard a rumor that the Secret Service has told residents with balconies or roof decks overlooking the Art Museum area (where mass will be held at 4:00 Sunday afternoon—I am not Catholic, but that seems a bit late to me, no?) that they are forbidden from using them for fear of sniper activity (I have never met a sniper, but I get the feeling that they prefer to be hidden—not out in the open on say, a balcony, but that may just be me).
- The television station broadcasting Sunday’s Eagles football game has vowed that it will not pre-empt the game (which starts at 1:00) and switch over to the 4:00 mass if the game runs on a bit long (given the woeful 0-2 start to the season, though, they might want to reconsider showing the game at all).
- My wife, who works at a hospital here in town, was told that everyone is on-call this weekend. The hospital is concerned that there will be droves of people coming to be cured by the pope and when that does not happen, there will be a rush on the hospitals.
So I have decided to approach this weekend like I do any other: by drinking wine, but with a bit of a twist. This weekend, I plan on throwing back a few wines in the pope’s honor. I am not the most religious guy in the world (and really far from being Catholic), but Pope Francis seems like a rather cool pope (at least as cool as popes get) and I imagine he has tied one on at least a few times in his life (I read on Wikipedia that he was once a bouncer in a bar before going into the priesthood).
So here are my recommendations for the weekend, if you would like to Pope a Cork along with me:
Argentina: 2012 Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec: Retail $20. As many of you no doubt know, Pope Francis is from Argentina and you also probably know that Malbec is king in that country. Well, I just had this wine the other day with the winemaker at lunch here in Philadelphia. We had only decanted it for about 30 minutes (it could have used a bit more), but it was impressive. So impressive that I actually went online to buy some (since, and here is a surprise, the PLCB does not carry the wine [sarcastic shocked face]). The Pope takes me as a guy who likes to belt back a few every now and then (and not just during communion–which I never really understood–it takes me as rather cannibalistic), and when he wants a taste of home, he should grab some of this, which comes from one of the better regions for growing Malbec in his home country (I have a pretty good feeling that he could probably get some….).
Italy: 2014 Vietti Moscato d’Asti: Retail $12. The pope’s former name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, seems decidedly Italian for a reason: his father was an Italian immigrant to Argentina from Asti, the famed wine region in Italy. There are a lot of ways you could go here: a Barbera d’Asti (a light and fruity red), or even a sparkling Asti (wine that used to be called Asti Spumante, but that changed once Martini and Rossi made it seem really cheap), which is rather sweet but it does have bubbles! I will be opting for a Moscato d’Asti, not quite as sweet as the other sparkling wine from the region (this wine is slightly sparkling), this wine does not sport high alcohol either, which will keep me nimble on my feet should I decide to venture out onto our roof deck to check things out.
United States: 2012 Michael David Winery Seven Deadly Zins: Retail $12. Since this is the Pope’s first visit to the United States, I thought “celebrating” with what many people feel is our “national grape” would be a good call. I thought about opting for a domestic Cabernet Francis, er Cabernet Franc, but I found that to be a little too cheeky, even for me. Besides, this wine is widely available (even in PA!), and I figure this could easily be made into a drinking game—say every time the word “sin” is spoken?
There you have it, you already know what I will be drinking this weekend and you can join in spirit if you so choose. Or come on over—just don’t drive.