Mulligans & Heaven

Two and a half years ago, when I started this blog with the help of my dear friend Mary Haviland, we thought about calling it “Inez Says Wine.”

I am so glad we didn’t, however, as I have a lot more to say than just wine notes and taste descriptors.

In fact, I think about things that would be wonderful to share albeit they have absolutely nothing to do with the nectar of the gods.

Today was a day when I started thinking about love and marriage, and all of the drinking that goes on as a result.  O.K., so maybe that’s just my marriage, but Stephen and I love to love each other as well as love our vino (in particular, Cava).

When Stephen and I first met, we were working together at Windows on the World, and we shared an office on the 106th floor of 1 World Trade Center.  When we met in June of 2000, about the only thing we had in common was our love of fermented grape juice.

I was from eastern North Carolina and thought Chicken Tettrazini was the best thing I had ever eaten; he was from the Hudson Valley region of New York where he grew up on liver and stuffed shells.

If you had asked me what a stuffed shell was, I would have said a hermit crab.

Stephen moved at a faster pace than I did whereas I was the nerdy type, afraid of getting into trouble or doing the wrong thing.

If any of you had seen us during the first few months together, you would have said we had about as much chance of being a couple as Shiraz and Viognier.  We were completely different people from two completely different worlds, and our only likeness was our love of wine.

So, I guess that’s where you can say wine is pretty magical.

As the days turned into months, I found Stephen to be extremely funny.  He was quirky, yes, but he also had a hilarious sense of humor, constantly shocking my lips into curved smiles.

It took a while, but after six months, I could not deny the fact that I absolutely loved this sommelier who knew more about wine than anyone I had ever met.

We took the plunge, and after convincing ourselves we could go out without anyone else knowing, we decided to become exclusive.

I will never forget our conversation after almost a year of dating.

We had gone out one night, and I had acted like a complete fool….super mean and completely obnoxious.

As per usual, one wakes up the next day, realizing they didn’t make a great showing the night before.

I apologized profusely, and I asked him was he going to be able to forgive me and continue to be my boyfriend.

His answer is one I will always remember.

He asked, “Do you know what a mulligan is?”

“Is it a bird?” I wondered aloud.

“Close,” he said, “It is when you swing your club in golf and it is such a bad shot that you don’t have to count it.  You can take another one with no penalty.”

“You,” he said to me, “have a never-ending amount of mulligans.”

And that was the day, I knew I would marry this man who would forgive me of all my faults and flaws.

Rewind to 35 years ago, long before I met Stephen.

The setting is the dining room in Tarboro, circa 1980.

My grandparents, affectionately known as Gran and Papa Bear, are the players and they are eating supper with friends and family.

Gran asked Papa Bear, “Do you think you will know me in heaven?”

Papa Bear beamed at her and said, “It won’t be heaven if I don’t.”

Love comes in many sayings and with many words.  I will always appreciate hearing any that have to do with  the unconditional and the other-worldly.

Stephen never met my grandfather, but I think he would love to know he tied him with one of the most romantic sayings my ears have ever heard.


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  • Mike


  • Liz Dunton

    Love this, Inez!

  • Andy

    1 Corinthians 13 5 Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

  • Alice

    So it wasn’t just Stephen’s mushroom ravioli?
    Love, love, LOVE this one, Inie!

  • Meredith

    Beautiful! I am so glad u r recording all this for your children……….,luv u!

  • We live in Peoria, IL, and stopped at your lovely restaurant on our way from Raleigh to the OuterBanks–based on recommendations from Trip Advisor. We, too, are foodies and wine lovers. I signed up to get your weekly wine recommendation text, and since started following your blog. I LOVE this entry!!! Thank you for sharing!!