So after making a complete jackass out of myself; both at my important dinner and then in retelling of my jackassery here, it got me thinking of some of my most painful or embarrassing wine moments of all time. Now I have only been doing this wine thang for about fourteen years so there are only about two thousand times I have humiliated myself but I figured rather than make some shit up in honor of this holiday of hilarity I thought I might as well stay true to the spirit of Samantha Sans Dosage and offer myself up to the sacrificial gods of foolishness. Now some of these may not involve wine directly, they may have happened on a buying trip or as is often the case…after too much wine but in the interest of time I will keep it to wine or The Wine Country related junk.
My first trip to France was in March of 2003. It was a twenty five day trip that I was dreading, terrified of taking and was in no way emotionally prepared for. So how better to ready yourself the night before such a trip? Pack maybe? No too practical. Spend quality time with the family you will be away from for the longest time you have ever been apart? Nope too touchy feely. Organize your carryon, fill it with things to keep you occupied for a eleven hour flight? Yeah, not that wise. No this ever stable chick got stinking drunk, drank a bottle and a half of Champagne by myself….on a too-nervous-to-eat stomach. So imagine my puffy, head thumping dismay the next morning when I found that the clothes that I was packing…for the twenty five day trip to chilly France, would not fit in the two bags I had. Hubby made a quick dash to Target and got me two slightly larger bags that I was able to stuff my fat girl winter clothes in…yay.
To try and quiet the spinning and pounding, both anxiety and booze induced I opted for the only sane cure…more booze on the plane of course. Sipping, nodding, slurping, squeezing my chunky ass in and out of my seat, more sipping and I managed to finally drift off to sleep….about twenty minutes before we landed at Charles De Gaulle, awesome. Stumbled off the plane and immediately lit a cigarette in the airport, this was France they all smoke here….um, yeah not so much. I stood there with my fearless leader Michael Sullivan looking at me like I must be “challenged” as I puffed away while leaning on a No Smoking sign. Found the nearest trashcan and after a final, “Oh my Gawd I needed that” puff I extinguished my cigarette and made my way to the baggage claim with the rest of my group.
As the plane booze and sleep deprivation retardation set in I began my first bout of insecurity based paranoia that would visit me often during that trip. I tried to steady myself, stand straight and act as if I had not been saturated for the past twenty four hours, these fancy pants wine folks were eyeballing me…wondering what I was doing on such a trip, (ya know because I was their biggest concern…fuck insecurity is kind of arrogant no?) wondering if I was drunk or just goofy. I watched as they hoisted their sizable bags from the revolving belt and felt my heart race when I didn’t see my bags comin’ round the bend. I felt the first trickle of sweat slip down my lower back after ten minutes and was in a full on flop sweat after the next ten…where the hell were MY bags?! “You sure those aren’t yours Sam?” Michael asked after watching like four bags roll around on the belt for the umpteenth time. “Um no. I know what my bags look like and those aren’t them” I snapped in a “shit my buzz is gone and I feel like ass” tone and began looking around for the little office where you go when your shit is missing. I was near tears when Michael stepped up to the orphan bags and checked the tags, that was the first time of many I would see the head cocked “Are you serious?” face from Michael. He pulled my bags off the belt and gave me a long stare before saying, “This should be fun”….fantastic start.
After one night in Paris we were off to our one stop in Champagne, Agrapart. I was still hazy as hell, not from booze but from pure physical and emotional exhaustion when we stepped into the cellar at Agrapart. My eyes glazed over as Michael and Pascal chatted away in French, my heart just wasn’t in it and my bits were beginning to freeze. My nose felt like it was stuffed and I watched as big plumes of white air came huffing warm from my lips and into the icy air, I was mesmerized as I watched them drift away from me and seemingly disappear into the frosty air that surrounded me. After tasting through the base wines used to make their lovely Champagnes we were escorted to the much warmer tasting room to taste some finished wines. I shuffled behind my group and found a small area of the tasting bar to rest my notebook upon so I could take proper notes. I brought that first glass of much wanted, long awaited Champagne to my nose and took a deep, powerful sniff….so here’s the thing, not as cold there in the tasting room and the force with which I took that first sniff…the kind of sniff that was required in the icy cellar….with the base wine, tad too aggressive. I literally sucked bubbles and wine right up my nose which induced a couching, and gagging fit that had me hunched over and fearing I was going to bring up my breakfast baguette or wiz myself, not sure which would have been worse. Day two and Michael face number two…rad.
Couple of days in and we are in a tiny little bistro in Beaune for lunch. I was feeling more rested and a bit more comfortable in my skin. I was sporting my “No one told me not to” white sneakers and they were wearing the splatters from me spitting some of the world’s most amazing wines on the cellar floors from whence they came…Clos Vougeot, I had Clos Vougeot stains on my kicks. So this afternoon I thought it was time to try and take my lunch ordering into my own hands, I didn’t read a word of French but figured that everything I had so far, (blood sausage that was forced on me that first night in Paris not withstanding) was pretty damn good, how hard could this be? Thankfully there was plenty of Raveneau Chablis to wash down my sliced pig snout with a side of lentils….dude.
Had two shining moments while visiting Eric Bordelet who arguably makes the world’s finest Ciders. “Eric is running late so feel free to take some time to decompress and just relax” Michael told us as we mulled around outside the car at the Bordelet estate. As we all wandered off to find a place to chill Michael called out, “Be sure to watch out of you should choose to sprawl out on the grass, the stinging nettles around here are pretty fierce”. Not sure what it was I heard, maybe it was just, “Grass” that sent me to a nice sunny spot of lush green where I set about stretching out, lacing my fingers behind my head and resting my travel weary body beneath the sun. After about four minutes the burning started and from there…it just got worse. “Um, Michael…if someone were to stumble upon some of that nettle junk what would it look like?” I asked trying desperately to conceal my flaming hands, “The skin would be all red, bumpy and burn like hell” he answered. I flipped my hands out in front of him to hear, “Yup, just like that. Nicely done”…Michael look number fifteen.
Later in the evening that same day, my hands somewhat healed we met Eric Bordelet for dinner at the restaurant that was located in our rather swanky hotel. I was in full on party mode at dinner seeing as we didn’t need to travel to far to make it back to our rooms and still recovering from the sting of my idiocy I figured what the hell. That was until I felt that brick wall of “Holy shit, I’m hammered” fall upon me and I decided it was time to say goodnight. Now I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned my direction deficiency before but I was born without a sense of direction….seriously cannot find my way out of a paper bag, add a bunch of wine and Calvados and I’m basically fucked. But I was a world traveler now, been weaving my way, (led that means I had been led) throughout France surely I could find my way to my damn room…..sigh. After slinking around in the belly of the hotel, winding up back in the restaurant for the third time my fellow female road buddy took pity on me and helped me find my room. Got the call in the morning, “Shall we send a Sherpa or will you be able to find the car?”….sigh.
While sitting at a rather awkward dinner with some people that I hardly knew I watched the evening turn from fun wine night to full on political debate. Things were beginning to get really ugly and I found that the bottle of L’Hortus Rose I had brought was getting dangerously low, I either needed to defuse the situation, (something I can be good at) or get my hands on another bottle of something just to untie the knot that was starting to form in my gut. I didn’t really know these people, they invited me because I was like a wine person and stuff and there I sat quietly as this casual get together became a full on fire and brimstone argument. I poured the last little bit of Rose in my glass, primed up my proper wine professional self and waited for just the right moment to ask, “So the butt, exit only or revolving door of fun?”….situation defused and you guessed it, I was never invited back.
So much jackassery so little time. Need to ready myself for work and who knows maybe I’ll have a Part II list by the time I come home today….