“120 people. Heading home and in serious pain”
The text message I sent my husband just before loading a box of wine into my car, adjusting my seat trying to find any position that would quiet the screaming in my back, slipping the key in the ignition and melting into the silence of my warmed by the sun car. I slipped a James Taylor CD into the stereo and let his warm, creamy voice wrap around me like arms, scooping me up and letting me rest my harried head across its chest….the lulling thump-thump-thump of my own heart soothing me and causing deep chest filling breaths….audible sounds of utter relief to escape from my lips. Heading home.
To say that our Pink & Stink, (or Rose and garlic aioli) Fest was busy would be a gross understatement, it was a massive turnout and of the 120 people that showed, almost 70 were in the first hour. Whimper. The morning started out sane enough; had the wines icy cold, the stacks of featured wine full and ready for the grabbing, platters of pink lamb, tiny roasted potatoes and carrots tastefully arranged and bowls of Dale’s freshly whipped up garlic mayonnaise…thick, pungent and perfectly viscous, sitting proudly in the fridge making each of us that dared to open the door salivate and long to plunge one of those tiny taters into the bowl, dunk just a little too deep and pop the tender spud into our wanting mouths, feel the flesh give beneath our teeth, the luscious texture, the bite…the groan as the flavors of olive oil, egg yolks, lemon juice and garlic slithered across our palates. We were ready….or so we thought.
I was safely tucked away in the tasting room. I had opened and run through the wines, was confident about the order and felt prepared for the afternoon….that was until my second, My Merritt, came walking into the room, her big eyes especially large, sweet face both excited and a tiny bit panicked, “There is a line going out the front door, they are all waiting to buy a tasting sheet”. Any “cool breeze” feeling I had about being prepared was flung right out the window and my survival instinct kicked in. Started opening another bottle of everything, at a rather furious rate might I add, pop, smell, taste, spit, repeat. Pretty much how the whole day went.
The wave of glasses and faces kept hitting us, one after another and then twenty more. Was insane and any dreams I had about explaining or pontificating about each wine were quickly swept away with the undertow. Machines, we were basically bottle opening, platter filling machines…I swear Merritt grew an extra set of arms. She was like an octopus, pouring four wines at a time, reaching around me as I yanked corks and lunged to the fridge for another flight. The crowd was unbelievably compassionate and we heard more, “How ya holding up?” than any complaints or grumbling about the pace or the pack-ed-neds. Only had one ball breaker, a cat that fell in love with one of the wines early and wanted to just drink that wine all afternoon, didn’t get that we don’t do it that way, (you have 10 pours, one of each otherwise it throws the bottle count completely off) and no matter how many times I smiled and tried to charm him, explained that we couldn’t do it that way, weren’t a wine bar…well he was just a sour puss and verged on being down-right mean. But other than that, the crammed in folks that turned out, well they were amazingly flexible and seemed to be having a fantastic time.
The wines showed brilliantly and there was an across the board kind of appeal to them, a palate for each wine and I cannot tell you how thrilling that is for me. I love this shit, I really do. When I can pour a wine for someone, even a wine that may not be my personal favorite, and they get all lit up and excited….well that makes my job, no matter how harried or frantic at times, completely fulfilling. Screaming back, no lunch, grumpy guy….didn’t matter, the rest of the day was absolutely affirming.
Wines of the Day:
2010 Domaine du Dragon $14.99
As perfect a Provencal a Rose as we have right now. Light bodied, mineral rich, faint strawberry fruit and full of that sexy ass snap that makes your mouth water.
2010 Von Buhl $17.99
One of the first wines to sell out. So vibrant and fucking vibrating with life. Tart, tangy, little spritz of acid on the entry. Easy to love and even easier to guzzle.
2010 Chateau Canorgue $16.99
One of my wines of the day. Packed with herbal and almost pot like aromatics, tight body, palate gripping acid and a mouth watering tang that kept me reaching for the glass…didn’t, couldn’t spit this wine. Brilliant.
2010 Bergerie L’Hortus $13.99
A red wine lovers Rose. Nice meaty texture, deeper more succulent fruit, rounder in the mouth with a little junk in the trunk. Amazing with the lamb and substantial enough girth to elevate the broad range of flavors and textures we were offering. Best selling wine of the day.
Got home and immediately started preparing for my Sunday. I was chopping thirty cloves of garlic, squeezing the fifteen limes I needed and scoring the skin on the pork shoulder that was to be plunked into the garlic and citrus bath overnight. “Sam! Are you going out tonight or are you staying home?!” my wee boyfriend, at my door…sweet face and big blue eyes, eyelashes flapping and all…Gawd, he kills me. “Staying in tonight Ty” I told him, “Okay then I need you to close your door” he responded. As wicked charming as those five year olds are, they aren’t all that smooth. I closed my door, for him of course, and found myself puddling as I nestled into my couch and listed to Tyler and his Mom as they decorated my stoop.
“I’n gonna make her candles. I’ll make five because I love her five days. No, I love her seven says so I will make her five candles cuzz I’m five” I was sitting, finally sitting after a crazy day, on the eve of my 40th birthday, back still screaming, hands wreaking of garlic and lime, head still adjusting to normalcy…Tyler’s big voice just outside my closed door, drawing candles for me. I tried to keep my shit together but as my eyes wildly searched for distraction they fell upon a card. A fancy card, adorned with a wine bottle and raised textures….the handwriting of the uncle that just found me, his sweet scrawl punctuating, “Here’s to the finer things in life” with a “Of which you are” tears. I sat here and the tears would not stop flowing….
A “Thump-thump-thump” on my screen and a, “Sam! We’re ready!” and I swiped my thumbs along my lower lashes, took a big sniff and opened my door to find….
I will remember this birthday above all others, Uncle Kim and Sweet Tyler…..you two cracked this heart wide open and on a day when I felt like I needed CPR, your love and extra effort made me feel like the most beloved woman alive. Thank you seems and sounds painfully small when compared to how gigantic you made me feel but….thank you.
If my first day of forty feels like this…..then I have much to look forward to.