Back in the old pre-kid days, when there was income flowing in and not a lot of expense, the seminarian and I became wine snobs. We lived near enough to the many "wine countries" of northern California - Napa, Sonoma, Amador County - to go winery touring. We had disposable income to shop at nice wine stores and take wine classes. We attended swanky wine events in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. We had a lot of fun.
Once we moved to Oregon we thought we'd check out the wine scene there - there was a winery just about 2 miles from our house, and more within an easy day trip - but with 2 little kids it just wasn't going to happen. We didn't miss it, really, most of the time. We bought our wine at Costco and were happy to have it.
Then we moved to Pennsylvania and started living on a student's income. Coincidentally, PA has some really odd liquor laws - no more Costco wine buys, just state-run liquor stores with poor selection and high prices. Well, we can't afford much wine anymore so it doesn't really matter.
Today we had to go to New Jersey - a mere 40 miles away but somehow when crossing the state line it seems like a big deal. Thanks to Google, we found a wine store close to our main destination and stopped in.
It was like nothing we had seen in over 10 years. A beautiful wine store, with aisles and aisles of wine from all over the world. We wandered around - I swear my husband had tears in his eyes - and looked at those old familiar names. The kids were quite good and patient but I longed for them to temporarily disappear so we could relive, ever so briefly, those old days. Storybook Mountain, Ridge, Robert Mondavi... so many familiar names and nearly all of it out of our budget. An employee noticed my dazed look and asked if he could help. I could only mutter that we'd been living in Pennsylvania - and he nodded sympathetically and said he understood. Then he suggested we come back on a Friday or Saturday for tasting.
We did find some affordable favorites - mostly from Bonny Doon - and so didn't walk out empty-handed.
We are unlikely to find - and pay! - a babysitter so we can go to New Jersey for wine-tasting. We'll just enjoy our few bottles, parceled out with special dinners. It was a fun half-hour, but... I found I didn't miss those free days - as in kid-free and free-spending - as much as I thought I would.