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Roxane Salonen shares how an evening with a new Our Lady of Fatima wine and two friends renewed friendship and faith. 

Soon after I posted a photo of the wine, which had arrived on my doorstep at 3 PM sharp, some of my Catholic friends on Facebook started swooning. “I call the bottle when you’re done tippling!” said one.  

The fact that I had to look up the word “tippling” says much. I’m no wine connoisseur. Truthfully, I’ve most often approached alcohol in general with hesitation, for too often, I’ve seen the effects it can have on a broken world, and in particular, some of my loved ones. 

But I also believe that alcohol, and wine in particular, can be an enhancement to life, food, and friendship when approached respectfully. After all, the first miracle of Jesus’ public life involved wine. His ability to turn water into wine caused His disciples to realize He was no ordinary man. The fact that His Mother played a prominent role in this standout scene draws me in further.  

Of all the forms of alcohol available, wine is my drink of choice. Given this, and the connection to our Lord’s Mother in her celebrated month, how could I deny a chance to taste test the Our Lady of Fatima Meritage Red Blend by Trinitas Cellars, the newest addition to the winery’s faith-based series, coinciding with the May 13 feast day of Our Lady of Fatima? 




A note from the company communicated its hope that the wine would “bless and inspire all who partake in its heavenly essence,” with its purported “harmonious bouquet of mulberry, black cherry, clove and toasted graham cracker, leading to a mouthwatering palate of rich berry flavors and a savory finish of tobacco and black licorice.”  

Enticing, to be sure, but I quickly realized it would be much more fun to enjoy this drink with others, so I asked two of my sweetest Catholic friends if they’d care to join me.  

The perfect meeting place turned out to be the Ave Maria room at Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church in Fargo, my parish, for which we received permission to bring in the wine and some food to sample this “nectar of the gods” in a weather-proofed, spirit-filled space. While we sipped and settled into the loungers, Our Lady of the Rosary kept vigil.  

Other faith-based wines have preceded this one, beginning with the RatZINger zinfandel, which apparently tickled the tastebuds of Pope Benedict XVI, followed with the Cabernet Francis, which, after being presented to our current pontiff, has become, according to the winery, “a cherished favorite during papal meals.” 

You can imagine why the three of us were aptly intrigued as we brought out the corkscrew to begin our “friends foray into food and fine wine.” Would the experience prove fruitful? Would we know the difference between the Fatima wine and the two other versions we’d brought for comparison? 

We started with the featured drink, smelling its essence to commence the tippling event. Thoughtfully, we searched for the various promised tastes. Black cherry? Yes. Toasted graham cracker? It was harder to tell. Black licorice? Yes, but just a hint, and not overbearing.  

After a few sips, we began indulging in the food: sliders with pickle spear, European pizza, and a gorgeous chicken salad featuring dried tomatoes with either Caesar or Greek dressing. We ended with cheese and crackers, and finally, some nice cocoa squares my husband had brought back from the Dominican Republic.  




Our session lasted nearly four hours, the majority of the time being filled with friendship, updates on life, and laughter. The Filled with Good food-freedom course in which I took part over Lent came to mind. Through that, I’ve become aware of how we tend toward isolating with the material instead of reaching for relationship. But as we three friends shared our sorrows and joys that evening, I felt renewed, affirmed in having invited these dear souls into the taste-testing experience, which seemed to also please Our Mother, who hovered near.  




So, how did the Fatima wine compare with the two others? We decided upfront to be completely honest, and in the end, we agreed, there was no comparison. The Our Lady of Fatima version offered a tantalizing, smooth, full-body blend which brought all its components into harmony, making for a very satisfying experience. The other two wines, both cabernets, were more acidic with sharper tones, and, while okay, not nearly as pleasing. Our Lady of Fatima left us impressed. It was, in a word, divine.  

But just as divine were the four stolen hours with a trio of friends, who, through a curious interest in a beautiful bottle of wine and shared love of Our Lord’s Mother, reveled in a renewal of friendship, finely fortified, that left our palates palpably pleased.  

Ultimately, it’s all about relationship, and we agreed God had brought us together in that space very purposefully. We parted with hugs and a shared gratitude for the experience. 


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Copyright 2024 Roxane Salonen
Images: (top) Canva; all others copyright 2024 Roxane Salonen, all rights reserved.