That was my day yesterday, my body aching, head heavy in that “what to do now” kind of way and a form of sleepy unlike anything I can remember. I spent the entire day after Christmas on the couch, no shower, bundled up…man was it cold and lacking the motivation to do little more than fondle the remote control, sip on a glass of white wine and fade in and out of sleep..an immovable lump of goo, that was me.
This holiday season was brutal, don’t get me wrong I had fun but the physical toll was the worst in memory…..the only thing I can attribute it to was stress! The season started so freaking slow that I had a raging ball of, “Where the hell is everyone?!” sitting on my shoulders every day putting more weight on my already over stuffed frame. People were uber cautious, nervous and to be perfectly honest…down-right needy! I saw more new faces this year which was really nice but on the other hand some of those folks were working us like we were in a flea market….”If I buy six bottles will you cut me a deal?” “I just spent $50.00 aren’t you going to throw in free gift wrapping?” it was the season of smiling and trying not to sound pissy….not my strong suit but if I do say so myself I think I did very well….well, that is if you don’t count the guy that called and jumped all in my shit because we couldn’t ship to Texas, I took his vile temper for as long as I could but after explaining no fewer than 4 times that we could not ship to Texas, not would not and having him scream at me, (I don’t tolerate screaming…..if you can’t control the level of your volume there is no point in trying to reason with you) “So you are not going to do anything for me?!! Is that what you are telling me? There is nothing you can do and screw the friend that loves wine right?! That is unacceptable!!!” with that guy I may of ended up letting my displeasure with his tone take control of the conversation….but for the most part we jumped through hoops for people this year….had to, this was not the year to take for granted even the smallest sale, not that we ever do but this year every nickel was greatly appreciated.
By the time we locked the door on Christmas Eve I could feel the weight lifting a touch, we did well this season, it all came in the last week but people did come. Each shift would walk in the door and it was like jumping into the deep end and holding your breath for 8 hours….move, cut, price, wrap, stuff boxes, recommend wines, run credit cards and do it again. Going that extra mile this year was essential and I have to say….if felt really good, helping people, alleviating just a bit of their stress helped me not notice how unbelievably exhausted I was, for that I am grateful but yesterday it all came crashing down, I finally came up for air and it felt like I had swam the English Channel. In retrospect spending Christmas Day in the bottle may have contributed to my lack of energy but true to form I will not blame the booze….it was the season.
Christmas Eve after locking up the store and sharing a bottle of Champagne with the staff I loaded up my purchases and popped in a non-holiday CD into my stereo for the ride home, the drooping of my shoulders started then but there was no time to get all lazy, I had to pick up the boys, change my clothes, (this after looking at Randy and asking if my jeans and “Old man” cardigan were acceptable and getting the long up and down look and a, “Um….yeah that is fine”…drat, I was so comfy) and head over to Randy’s for dinner. For the last 7 years or so…wow, has it been that long…Randy and Dale have graciously opened their home to my family on Christmas Eve, Dale makes incredible food, Randy pours amazing wines and once the “elders” have been shuffled back to their houses we usually end up having a grand old time and this year was no exception!
Dale made some lovely snacks, multiple kinds of salmon and smoked trout with several dippers, warm marinated mushrooms, pork dumplings….one of my favorite things in the whole world with a yummy, salty dipping sauce and we munched away on those while sipping our way through bottles of Champagne, could have died happy right there but wait…there’s more!
First up was a salad of Romaine, picked from Dale’s garden with spicy blue cheese dressing that Randy paired with the 2007 Hirsh Gruner Veltliner which worked beautifully, the crisp bright, green notes in the wine were a nice flavor match and the slightly weighty texture married well with the richness of the dressing….and the little bite on the finish of both the dressing and the wine were just what we needed to get the ol’ palate juices flowing. From there it was an super savory oxtail ragu over delicate egg noodles….so rich and deeply flavored with tender bits of meat just falling off the bone, with that Randy poured two reds, both in decanters and wanted me to guess what they were, (the “name that wine” game, one that French vigneron’s love to play) one sniff of wine number one and I knew in an instant we were going to be drinking wines from the Northern Rhone…..just something about those aromatics that you just can’t find anywhere else. The wines were the 2006 Chante de Perdrix Saint Joseph, ($21.99) which was my red wine of the year pick, the wine was absolutely stunning, so floral, herby and densely packed while still retaining a purity and freshness and the little smattering of white pepper that came through both on the nose and mid palate was the perfect extra seasoning for the braised oxtails.
The other mystery red was from August Clape, a very famous estate in Cornas and one that I had the pleasure of visiting earlier this year, this wine was a little more aggressive and had just a touch of “nail polish” like aroma but it too was herby, earthy and showed a delicate nature most don’t associate with Syrah, (which both wines were) well, those that have become used to the boysenberry laden Syrah we tend to find from California, you know the more dark berry fruit with less of that earthy, blue fruit that tends to shine in the Syrah from Northern Rhone. Both wines were lovely with the food and I sat there wearing the proud mug of a Mom when my son was able to pick out dill in one of the reds…kid has one great nose on him, makes me proud. For the cheese course we were treated to a 1983 Chateau d’ Yquem….dude….Merry Christmas to us! One sniff and Jeremy said, “Oh my God, it smells like butter” I’ll be damned if he wasn’t spot on, the wine was rich in the nose, full of sweet cream, butter and poached apricots…sublime and on the palate it was more cream and apricots, such a treat and I did warn my dear son that he won’t likely be drinking things like that too often!
After dinner the “oldsters” were carried home, the rest of us began exchanging gifts and Dale cracked another bottle of Champagne and although I had plenty of wine I didn’t want to offend her and say no, so…..we had a blast and I can’t thank Randy and Dale enough for having us. We got home and had our traditional opening of one gift on Christmas Eve then tucked in for the night. Woke to the alarm which we had to set because my sister, her husband and her cutest-thing-ever puppy were coming over at the ass crack, (read 8 AM) to kick off Christmas day, eat breakfast and drink Champagne, (a tradition that she and I started a few years back).
Eggs, bacon, sausage, English muffins and Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs, ($52.99) and I could not have cared less about what was wrapped under the tree, my tummy was full, my palate alive with that nervy zing that you get from Champagne and there was a Boston Terrier puppy sitting on my lap. Ya know, that first bottle did noooo last very long so we cracked into a bottle of NV R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($39.99) sadly my sister and her hubby had to dash of to the home, or some senior center place to visit with his too frail to be moved Grandmother…aww such a shame and here I was with a damn near full bottle of Champagne, (cackle and maniacal hand rubbing here). Well, I couldn’t very well just let it go to waste now could I….took it down like a wounded gazelle and “fell asleep” on the couch with The Dark Knight blaring in the background.
Woke just in time to hop in the shower and ready myself for Christmas dinner at the in laws while watching the Lakers Celtics game….the Lakers break my heart every holiday and I was ready for this to be yet another crushing blow….(How happy was I that the Lakers not only beat those stoopid Celtics but ended their 19 game winning streak…hooooraaayyyy) crammed as much wine as I could fit in my wine bag and dashed off to Tustin during half time, so would have made perfect time but drat….we needed to stop and get gas. Had to listen to the first part of the second half of the game on the car radio and ran full speed into the house leaving the boys in my dust to gather the wine bag and gifts from the car.
My Mother in law was already on her second glass of Sparkling Wine, (NV Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’ Alsace $16.99) but I was hankering for the real deal and just so happened to have a bottle or two peaking out of my over stuffed wine bag. NV Roland Champion Blanc de Blancs, ($64.99) had to start there as the other bottle I had was more of the RH Coutier and I had just, (you know…before my Nap E. Poo) finished a bottle of that. The Roland Champion was glorious, deeply fruited, tons of citrus and buttery crust with a long saturated finish, drank a couple of glasses while un wrapping gifts keeping one eye on the game at all times. The Mother in law and I tore through the first and second bottle just in time to sit down to a perfectly cooked prime rib courtesy of my hubby and Mother in law…really was the best one to date, perfectly pink…but red in the center, really meaty tasting and tender as all get out. The 2004 Scavino Barbera d’Alba I brought was nice with the meat but I would have preferred a Burgundy, don’t know why I changed things up this year but I have learned my lesson, there is nothing wrong with good but it was Christmas dammit….I wanted perfect or at the very least great. Loved the coco and almost tart red cherry flavor in the wine, the rustic tannin was pleasant but I longed for that shiver I get when I have a lusty red Burgundy with a sweet cut of prime rib.
With dinner over and the wine gone my Mother in law went back to her little Lucien Albrecht Sparkler….funny she didn’t offer me any this time but my Father in law popped a bottle of Folie a Deux Menage a Trois, ($8.99) “Ohhhh tough call” I told myself, never being a fan of fruity styled California wine I was worried but I was also quite buzzy and if I stopped then I would have just gotten sleepy….watching the Mother in law singing and dancing to Momma Mia I sucked it up and poured myself a glug of fruity domestic red….”Holy Crap” I said as it slid down my throat leaving a sploosh of marshmallow and cotton candy in its wake…so freaking sweet it almost made my teeth hurt….after the subtle imports, (and spendy ones might I just toss in for fairness) the inexpensive domestic offering was insipid and damn near offensive….oh you can bet I choked it down….I did mention the singing and dancing to Momma Mia right…yeah.
We made it home in one piece and I had to pop a bottle of 2007 Pelle Menatou-Salon, ($18.99) as I needed something to wash the candy from my palate and who are we kidding, I was in full party girl mode, there was no end in sight….the wine was exactly what I needed, grassy, full of melon and guava with a plumpness mid palate but a super tart racy lift on the back, “Ahhhhhh” it felt as if I was kissing a lover from years past….comfortable, exciting and pleasing as hell. The final traditional Christmas event was to go to church….now did you just picture me all drunk in church…hahahaha silly rabbits, our church is the church of Jesus Christ Superstar. Never being raised in a real church or religion for that matter this was the one thing that my Mother always played for us, we loved it…still do, know every song and get what I can only assume is the same kind of charge as those folks sitting in the pews, get from their church. My son and I sat together on the couch singing aloud….emphasis on LOUD, clapping our hands and leaning over every once in a while to give each other kisses on the forehead….may not be a conventional church but it works for us. We stayed up late into the evening listening to our son confess to drunken evenings, (as well as some other experimentations) the whole time feeling so lucky that he feels comfortable enough to tell us those things and with him thanking us for trusting him to make his own mistakes….it was a very love filled evening full of kisses and loads of laughter….a truly Merry Christmas.
Not sure what time we rolled into bed….things got a tad blurry but next thing I knew.
L’shanah tovah, ya’ll! Happy new year…
5 hours ago