I consider myself one of the most fortunate humans alive, for many reasons. A huge part of this feeling of gratitude for my life, is owed to the gift that was and is, even since her death, my adult relationship with my paternal Grandmother, Jennie Rose Snawder. You see, this was a relationship of my own forging. It began as an attempt, at 18 years old, to get her to forgive me for a silly teenage blunder. I had left her off of my photo collage/high school graduation invitation. I did not have many photos of us, something I corrected later in life. I certainly did not want to use the one of us in which my hair was temporarily died green with food coloring for St. Patrick's Day. Though smiling in the photo, she was none too pleased with that move. Jennie Rose liked structure. She held herself and others to such. She taught me the value of keeping to a system, a schedule. Her Germanic roots shining through. And I, always a challenge to her austerity, embracing the French aspect of our heritage. The two fostering an Alsatian sensibility, of course. That was Grandma and I: Germany and France. Finding our balance.
Back to the collage. She was hot. More truthfully, hurt. She told my Dad, her son, "I don't know what I ever did to her." That was it. She never did anything to me, except love me. Her love was so implicit in the order of things, that I took it for granted. And I was 18, so I was admittedly self-absorbed and careless about the emotions of my elders. But this folly proved to be a blessing. She was so upset and I felt so bad about it that I worked overtime to make amends. I was 18 and soon off to college, out of state, so I had to make use of breaks and holidays. Thus began the adult relationship of Jennie Rose and Joanna Lynn.
I got to know my grandmother as a person. I would go pick her up, without my parents or brother, though sometimes we would all join in the fun. I would take her to lunch. I discovered her unyielding love for fried oysters! We would go to the thrift store, as we both loved a bargain. I would ask her about the past, hear her stories of days gone by. She would soften when she spoke of happy memories, like meeting my Grandfather, John Warren, the love of her life. The man whom she built a beautiful life with, raised 7 kids with and truly loved. He had passed the year prior to my slip-up. I do think that his absence gave us the space to connect. She missed his companionship terribly. I grew into a woman as this friendship, really she was my friend, unfolded and developed. I was 36 when she passed. For half of my life we had this distinctive bond. The word gratitude doesn't even begin to cover it. Better than I could have ever imagined.
For her birthday, I sought a wine emblematic of her. Now, Grandma was not much on wine. Grandpa used to make concord grape wine, but that was before my wine drinking time so I never had a tatse. I would say that her favorite wine was bourbon. Kentucky woman through and through. She also enjoyed a few good beers. But she did tell me a story of drinking a whole bottle of white followed by a whole bottle of red one evening. Apparently the others were content with bourbon and beers and there went Jennie Rose, drunk as a skunk. That put her off wine for the rest of her life. She would not even speak of the hangover, just close her eyes and shake her head at the horrid memory. I can only imagine of what quality the wine was. Poor Grandma!
Um...is this still a wine blog?
Well friends, last night, Gabe and I enjoyed a rosé that I think worthy of Jennie Rose. BTW: she passed in 2011, a few years before I moved to Chicago and met Gabe. But I MUST say, for the record, I just know she would have loved him. He's good to me and he likes to eat! Good enough for Grandma. Eating was central. So in honor of her we sipped on the 2014 Gustave Lorentz Pinot Noir Le Rosé from Alsace. 100% Pinot Noir, retails for $18. It could not have been more perfect. It has composition with tart raspberry on the palate but a softness on the finish. An honest representation of the Franco-German region from which it comes. We had a glass and then layered in some snacks. I would recommend it with a mild cheese, baguette and berries. We had none of that so we brought out one of my favorite combos: guacamole, chips and rosé. I am telling you, guac and rosé have been a comfort combo for me for years. And I am spreading the gospel here. The acidity in the rosé complements the mild creaminess of the avocado. Another funny Grandma story, she would say when we we went to the local Mexican restaurant in Fern Creek, KY, "I don't care for avocados but I love guacamole." She was the cutest.
Today, July 18, would have been the 97th Birthday of Jennie Rose Shacklette Snawder. I thought she would live forever. She passed on Feb. 9, 2011 at age 93. The funeral was held in Louisville, KY, on Feb. 14, 2011, my 36th Birthday. Also the Birthday of my cousin Melissa Snawder. Melissa and I carried the gifts together, as part of the Catholic tradition for Grandma's service. We were proud to do this on our birthday, paying homage to the woman who made our lives possible. This day will always be Jennie Rose Day for me and I implore you all to celebrate as well. Drink some rosé for Jennie Rose! Bon Anniversaire, Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Happy Birthday Jennie Rose!