When Was the Last Time You Watched the Sun Set? It’s Time

John always says the signs of fall arrive long before we’re ready to really acknowledge and process them. Outside our country cabin, the green berry-like things on our faux dogwood trees start to turn red. Chipmunks leave piles of acorn shells on our steps. We spot a yellow leaf on our La Mediterranée tree. We have no idea what type of tree it is, but it looks like a painting of a tree that used to hang in one of our all-time favorite restaurants, La Mediterranée on Second Avenue (here’s a tip: Go there!).

We’ve had a fabulously long run of cocktails on the deck this summer. John’s a wizard when it comes to making Martinis with Massican Winery Vermouth and I’ve had some success with Sangrias and Margaritas. We sip while listening to Diana Krall Radio on Pandora. But although the deck faces west, we really haven’t been able to see the sun set for months. The trees and vines that grow below the deck, along our little now-dried-up stream, and up the modest bluff, have obscured the blazing ball as it has descended. But most of all, our rain forest-like greenery has obscured the awful MacMansions “over there,” and for that we’re grateful.

So a few days ago to catch a glorious sunset, we did something we’ve talked about doing for a long time. John runs not only around Central Park but also across the city’s many bridges and along the Hudson River. It was on one of his river runs that he got a good look at Pier I Café in Riverside Park South, at West 70th Street. He brought me back a few weeks ago for dinner and as the sun set we watched an old-timer head to the pier, fishing pole in hand, a couple of lovers leaning against the railing and into each other, and some mothers and fathers chasing giggling children.

We decided that, instead of going to the café, we could have our own café at the end of the pier, which juts far into the Hudson River. So on Labor Day, we walked into Renaissance Fine Wines & Spirits, a lovely shop near the pier, to buy something chilled to have with whatever sandwiches we could find for dinner. Regina Viotto and an associate were pouring 2013 Borsao White, a wine from Spain made from the Viura grape. Bodegas Borsao was founded in 1958 in the town of Borja, which long ago was called Borsao. Viura can be neutral, but this one wasn’t. It was flinty, with a lovely ripe lemony brightness and we liked it well enough to buy a bottle of it.

We also bought a second white, 2013 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco Vignetti Delle Dolomiti, from biodynamically grown, hand-harvested grapes in the Alto Adige region of Italy. It’s so important to find names you trust in wine – winemakers, importers, négociants – and we know that Alois Lageder is one of those. This was luscious, with lovely weight, probably from being on its lees for three months after fermentation in stainless steel.

Well, with those two bottles in hand, we bought turkey sandwiches and sat at the end of the pier, watching small boats and cargo ships pass, as the sun descended over New Jersey. To our right was the George Washington Bridge, all sparkly. To our left was New York Harbor. It was glorious.

You must know of a site where you can sit outside and watch the sun set. Get to it as soon as you can, before it gets too cold and the sun sets too darn early. That’ll happen before you’re ready to acknowledge and process it.

Dorothy J. Gaiter conceived and wrote The Wall Street Journal's wine column, "Tastings," from 1998 to 2010 with her husband, John Brecher. She has been tasting and studying wine since 1973. She has had a distinguished career in journalism as a reporter, editor, columnist and editorial writer at The Miami Herald and The New York Times as well as at The Journal.