Not long ago, after a night of drinking, a good friend of mine provided me with what I thought was an excellent piece of information: Drinking is permitted on the Seattle Great Wheel. (I later learned it is not.) The wheel, which opened nearly a year ago and cost $20 million to make, has great views of the city, the bay, the ships and ferries on the bay, and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Yes, few things are as magical as rising and falling in a Ferris wheel's gondola as the sun sets on the world. But drinking as you absorb these natural and human-made wonders opens the magic of a moment to the eternal. And not just any old eternal, but the kind of eternal that Walter Benjamin described in this sentence: "The eternal is in any case far more the ruffle on a dress than some idea." It is the eternal of the here and now.
Because one should always drink with friends or among strangers, the entire meaning of a bar, I drank on the wheel with four souls (two of whom I was familiar with, two I wasn't). I do not want to get into the details of what exactly we were all doing in the gondola, but we did enjoy the bottle of wine—Horse Heaven Hills' Les Chevaux ($15). (By the way, three rotations on the wheel costs $15 a soul.)
There is a reason why I picked this wine. Its name reminded me of a trip I took to the Tri-Cities at about the time this Les Chevaux was bottled in 2010 ("les chevaux" means "the horses" in French). The memory: I entered the city on 82 at around dusk, I saw to the south a long row of wind turbines on the edge of a hill. Later that night, I learned while staying in a hotel on Clover Island, which is in the middle of the ancient Columbia River, that behind this row of mighty, dreamy, and altogether angelic wind turbines was Horse Heaven Hills, an area with no less than eight wineries, one of which is Columbia Crest, the maker of Les Chevaux.
The wine is not bad at all. It's dark, thick, and smoky. It's like drinking a clear and starless night over an open field. Five pours in plastic cups emptied the bottle. It's too bad my friend was dead wrong—bringing your own wine to the wheel is "strictly prohibited." So let's keep this our little secret.