My Bride and I have always aspired to be Nick and Nora, which proceeds Hart to Hart by decades. We were up at the Grand Traverse Resort one year because of a conference that my Bride was attending. I was asked if I could give a wine tasting and talk to the spouses that were not at the conference. I accepted the challenge graciously. Since we were up in the Traverse Bay area, it was quite easy to find seven different wines locally as well as some Michigan cheeses for the tasting event.
This was a fun tasting and not a classroom for in-depth discussion. There were several people who had no concept of what to expect, but they were in a resort, they were not golfing and they wanted to have fun. That is the way I approached the tasting. I discussed the grape varieties, and some of the wine techniques. We had some lively discussions of which wines would be great with different foods. I found Champagne that was on the sweeter side to begin with, that was a big hit with the group. Everyone prior to tasting this Champagne had expressed that they prefer a brut style, until they tried this wine, and they all raved about it. This wine was from Chateau Chantal and it was called Celebration. It is a pink wine with a wonderful semi-sweet taste and they all wanted to buy some to take home from the trip. The other wine that I surprised them with was a Gewürztraminer style wine also from Chateau Chantal (on another tangent here, if you are ever in the Traverse City area, you must see Chateau Chantal not only for the wines, but it is one of the most beautiful wineries in Michigan as it is the furthest point on the peninsula with panoramic views of both bays). The Gewürztraminer was at first a little startling to everyone, because it is a very “spicy” wine. When I suggested that they try this wine paired with Chinese food, they all could see this marriage in their mind. We ended the tasting and everyone was then ready for the dinner that evening at the conference and looked forward to trying some different wines and feeling adventurous.
At the end of the conference, I was wandering in the lobby of the resort, and wandered into a gift shop. They had a “murder mystery” game for a group of eight. According to the packaging, there were suggestions for attire for all of the guests, and invitations to be mailed with those suggestions. The game also had dinner suggestions and music suggestions in keeping with the theme of the “murder.” We couldn’t wait to get home to have the party, elaborating on the dinner and pairing wines with each course. Since that first “murder” party we have probably purchase another twenty different themed games. That is where Nick and Nora come into the picture. If those two names do not ring a bell, think of the “Thin Man” movies of the thirties and forties based on the original “Thin Man” story by Dashiell Hammett, who also wrote “The Maltese Falcon.”
Nick and Nora were the ultimate amateur sleuths, though at one time Nick had been a professional, gave it up when he married Nora, and they both just enjoyed the era and the carefree times, helped by some days and nights of revelry with assorted alcoholic beverages and assorted colorful characters. Years later on a wine vacation in Carmel, we stopped in art gallery in Monterrey, and there was a collection of works by the legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. While in the gallery there was the work we had to have, signed as #95 of a 100 print run, with four “Nina” trademarks “The Thin Man.” An extra expense, we had not counted on, but it is now the focal point of our living room. I was going to include a picture of the drawing in this remembrance, but every picture I could find on the internet was protected and I could not download a copy. When I mentioned this fact to my Bride she became adamant that I do not even photograph the one on the wall, so instead I will offer a faint resemblance of our famed duo with a picture of the host and hostess with a bottle of Champagne at one of our “murder” parties.