Thursday, April 1, 2010

Your Wine Fool....

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….


Do Bianchi said...

I know a band that wrote a song about "one night in Paris".

We love that ForĂȘt...

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I used to make an asshole of myself three times a week on my wine blog, so I know the feeling.

When I was sommelier at Pacific Dining Car in LA I once did a wine dinner with Schramsberg--they make this stuff called Sparkling Wine that mimics your beloved Champagne kind of like how Tina Fey does Sarah Palin, only not as flat. Anyhow, I was getting the dining room ready for the initial guests, polishing flutes (hey, that's a nasty metaphor, isn't it?), setting up ice buckets, all that crap. I decided that I needed to get a head start on opening the wines too, so I carefully removed the foils from a case of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc. Better yet, I thought, I'll also get way ahead by removing the cages from the corks as well!

I removed all twelve cages, put the wines back in the ice, and left the room to do some other work. I got about twenty feet away when suddenly the sound of gunfire, not unusual for that area of LA, grabbed my attention. Only it wasn't gunfire, of course, it was the sound of twelve Champagne corks dislodging and flying around the dining room like psychotic killer bees. Of course, everyone rushed back to the dining room to see what all the noise was about, and there I was dodging corks and watching the bottles spurt like I was in a Busby Berkeley movie.

Sadly, it's only debatable if that's the stupidest thing I've ever done in the wine biz.

I love you!

Your Ron

Benito said...

I used to go to some dinner parties at the home of a wine distributor. It was convenient since back then he lived two blocks from my house, and I didn't have to worry about driving.

We'd go through an insane number of bottles, then at the end of the evening the Cognac, Scotch, and aged Rum would come out. Cue me stumbling home, very happy, and occasionally dancing with mailboxes. I'd wake up in the morning and find a half dozen corks in my pocket--for some reason I felt I really needed to keep them.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well who doesn't?! I mean like the Foret. I can assure you that its succulent fruit and savory doughy notes went a long way in helping me choke down that pig snout.

Ron My Love,
Yeah, that's pretty bad dude....and here I like looked up to you and junk. I still adore you though.

Least you only found corks in your POCKETS, could have been worse kid.

TWG said...

Oh come on, it's funny but doesn't mean you're a fool, you're too hard on yourself (along with a good memory). These are just first experiences in unfamiliar circumstances, you just spin it for a good story and comedy.

Samantha Dugan said...

Not being hard on myself really, (although I can and tend to be) just having some fun at my own expense. Last year I jumped in the pool of fake posting and goddamn it if everyone didn't believe me. This year I opted to keep it a little more me....which often involves making fun of my silly ass behavior, like the real crap that I stumble into. I thought of more today but seeing as there are not that many comments and I am as we speak switching over to a new laptop...this poor old bastard has been wore plum out...I might just store the others up for another day.
Thanks for reading and posting darlin.

Sara Louise said...

This is great! I'm sure going through it sucked, but reading about it is great. So funny! The whole thing played like a mini movie in my head (the part of you was being played by Rene Zellweger in Bridget Jones mode). Part II please...

Nancy Deprez said...

Great stories Sam! The pig snout would be a negative surprise for most people, I would imagine!

Samantha Dugan said...


Ohhhhh I've always wanted an English accent, feeling all fancy and stuff now. We shall see about Part II, been in the middle of compu-hell this evening...

It was truly vile, so crunchy and chew-(gag)-y. Makes me shudder just thinking about it. Needless to say I had no problem taking assistance with the menu the rest of that freaking trip.

Charlie Olken said...

The joys of travel. We have all been there. Only my wife and I were there to witness my first horrible misunderstanding of a menu.

It came on our combined honeymoon and my first trip to explore the French wine countryside after I has started writing. We were staying in Bordeaux at a nice hotel out in Graves called La Reserve.

Menu comes. Mr. Know-It-All, who studied a fair bit of French, chooses a veal dish which he thinks will be little center cuts of the filet--little rounds if you will.

Out comes the dish of foul-smelling stuff and my better half says to me, somewhat smuggly but politely enough as to not wound my fragile ego, "are you sure that you understood the menu?"

"Sure I did", I reply, and grab the Menu Master, and look up Rognons de Veau, which surely means rounds of filet.

No, it surely does not. Rognons, as I have never forgotten for these last thirty years, means kidneys. You cannot eat enough bread to cover the taste of kidneys.

Samantha Dugan said...

"Waiter I'll have the snout please" yup Charlie, you win and you married a very kind woman....I would still be making fun of you for that one Love.

I adore travel and all the wacky crap that can and often does happen and it always gives me something to write about...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for normalizing my existence and reminding me that we all have ridiculous embarrassing moments from time to time. So I'm not the only one who makes an ass of herself...whew, what a relief!