Have you ever gotten to know someone by their handwriting?
Chris was left-handed, and his penmanship was so distinct I can see it in my mind as I type.
It had a slant to it, and it was remarkably neat with immaculate perfection. No smudges, no erases, just perfect penmanship with a very distinct slant.
I grew to love that writing along with the man who owned it.
When I started working at Windows on the World in March of 1998 as an assistant cellar master, I reported directly to Chris Goodhart, the Assistant Beverage Manager. His one request of me when I received the wine in the morning was to write down every single ounce of information recorded on the wine label, regardless of how insignificant I believed it to be.
Little did I know at the time, but this was a very important job, and a job that should not be taken lightly.
For instance, if the Nuits St. Georges from Daniel Rion had “Vieilles Vignes” underneath the appellation, it was quite different than the bottles that said “Les Vignes Rondes” or “Grandes Vignes.” Even now as I write this blog, I am double checking my spelling for the label’s exact wording.
And of course, vintage was imperative. The 1993 Nuits St. Georges cost much more than the 1994, and if the vintage wasn’t recorded correctly or at all, for that matter, Chris would have to page one of us so that updates on the 1500 label wine list were 100% correct.
Chris was thorough and exact and close to perfect in every way possible, but more than that, Chris was compassionate. He listened to me when I worried about making a mistake, and he cared about my love life that was not panning out the way I thought it would. When my older sister came to Windows to dine with a friend, he chose an affordable bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for them to enjoy with their dinner, all the while making them feel as if they were drinking the best bottle of wine on the list.
Chris continued to be a friend well after he left Windows. He procured places for me to stay in Napa when I went out to take the introductory exam, and he even made the trek to Tarboro to eat at On the Square and spend nights with us in Tarboro.
Chris took time to be a friend, and his love for people and his knowledge of wine were not challenged by anyone.
My dear friend Mark called me on Thursday to tell me Chris had left our world. The news took my breath away, and four days later, I am still asking why.
Why is this gentle, loving soul no longer with us?
Chris taught me many, many life lessons. He taught me the significance of detail when it comes to anything you do, the basics of wine service in a fine dining setting, not up-selling wine when you don’t have to, and above all, the importance of friendship.
Chris will be missed by all who knew him. He truly made a mark on me as well as countless others who were fortunate enough to know him.
Tonight, when I raise my glass, I will raise it in his memory. The bottle of the wine of life just became a little more empty for all of his friends.
Cheers to you, Chris. We love you and we will miss you.