Mark Davis

Baltimore, Maryland

Sid has always been a catholic eater, and I don't mean to discuss religion. (I could also describe him a true democrat when it comes to food, but politics might be even worse to bring up). A catholic eater is someone who enjoys street food as much as foie gras and hot dogs as much as lobster. I remember seeing him at an Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards chomping on an Esskay frank and deriving evident pleasure from the experience. Since it was during a summer when the Orioles were giving sports reporters little to write about, I kidded him that I expected to read a story the next day, "Prominent food scholar bites dog." On another occasion, my wife invited him for latkes on the first night of Hannukah. Though fairly inattentive to that particular holiday, he responded with great enthusiasm. He seemed to enjoy the potato pancakes immensely. And we enjoyed very much the Chassagne‑Montrachet he brought with him. For while Sid might celebrate even the humblest of foods, he is fairly discriminating when it comes to wine.

I can honestly say that the best wine experience I ever had was at Sid and Jackie's house. My wife and I have tasted some pretty good wines during our travels. We usually try to set up individual tasting sessions in connection with our trips to France and Italy. So we have tasted at Mouton-Rothschild, Lynch Bages, and Margaux in the Medoc; at Haut-Brion in the Graves; at Zind-Humbrecht, Trimbach and Weinbach in Alsace; and at Lungarotti and Arnaldo Caprai in Umbria. The food at the Mintzes that night several years ago was outstanding; but it's the wine I still remember. Sid served a 1982 and 1985 Leoville Las Casas. I was a novice when it came to St. Julien wines but even I could tell that they were great ones. When I got home, I looked up the vintages in Robert Parker's tome on the wines of Bordeaux. I saw Jackie at the office the next morning, where she is a colleague, and registered in a tone of mock complaint: "Parker gave the '82 100 points but Sid should know that Parker only gave the '85 98 points."

Although Sid much prefers wine to just about any other beverage, my wife recently suggested that he try a black cherry concentrate as an antidote to the leg pain he had been experiencing. Her mother, who is from Poland and has been to known to experiment both with Old World and New Age nostrums, tried it and claimed that it greatly improved her ability to walk without knee pain. Sid was game and tried. A few days later he reported to my wife: "It tasted very good. I still have the leg pain but now at least I can dance the Krakovia."

A final word: Sid has for me redefined optimism. Optimism now means an eighty-year old man who buys Bordeaux futures that will not be available for two years and will not be drinkable for five.