Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Playing For The Other Team

There is only so much urging one can take. Only so much begging, stroking and pleading before you start thinking about it. Wondering what you’re missing. Letting your mind race with the thrilling possibilities of rolling around, dipping your toes, plunging and probing into what the other side has to offer. Just tossing the idea about at first, maybe flirting a little, not committing to anything but toying with the notion of.

I’ve always been kind of a “fewer boundaries” kind of chick. I don’t much care for rules, labels, anyone thinking they can, or worse, should, try and control my behavior. Just not how I roll nor the kind of limitations I believe make for a life well spent. More of a fly by the seat of my pants type, cautious but unwilling to let ideals keep me from having a new adventure, adding a notch to my belt, (in theory, don’t wear a belt in fact) or keeping me from exposing myself, opening myself to that heart-thumping feeling of passion, the prospect of new love. Spent the first thirty years of my life wrestling with that garbage; wanting to please others, be loyal and steadfast in the pursuit of everyone else’s happiness and not give in to those bites of curiosity that nibble at the nape of my neck, spent the past ten living, like really living in, feeling in, every second of this life of mine. Not pinched up with concern for what anyone else thinks. Life is too goddamn short for that shit and I’m not about to go out with a laundry list of, “Fuck, I wish I would have tried….”

Yesterday I caved just a little. Gave into whispered urgings. Let those, “won’t you just try?” fingers remove one of my comfortable layers and I stood, nearly naked, ready to take in a relative stranger….explore them in return.

Giant fucking fail….

I guess there are times when “Go big or go home” should not apply, and I’m pretty sure when thinking about trying to get your passion on or fall madly in love, well those ought to be at the very top of that, “don’t try” list. For the past couple of years I’ve been flirting with another. Letting my tongue flip about, my mind wander and my curiosity push me to take tiny sips from a new pond. Kind of thrilling for me in a way and because of that, my slipping into other rooms to take a taste of this one and that, I’ve been asked to slip into something….a little less comfortable. My boss whispering and urging me to take a stab at assisting in the domestic wine department. 

Seeing as I have a tremendous passion for wine in general, and am madly in love with some folks that make, review and drink those wines for a living, people I respect and admire, well I was all for it…a little nervous and still not sure what my role will be, but absolutely willing to get my exploration and palate swerve on. So yeah, first date in the playing for the other team arena, Family Winemakers tasting. Fuck me. What a passionless nightmare of an adventure that was. For those of you not in the wine business this is a trade (and even that is kind of bullshit, every Tom, Dick and heavily perfumed hostess can get in. Trade only my ass) event that hosts something like 300 wineries, all with multiple wines to pour. Just on that number alone you can see what a cluster-fuck this is. How the hell can anyone taste that many wines and get any kind of true, not to mention practical knowledge of what those wineries have to offer? Well, I can think of one guy, he gave them all an 8.5. Toss on top of the sheer volume of wines, the sweaty masses of people, many of which don’t do this for a living….so aren’t really there to taste but to drink, and the fact that each booth has to try and make their samples last for four hours while trying to be cognizant of the fact that the people they are pouring for are going to be sampling hundreds upon hundreds of wines, (read tiny, tiny pours) worst tasting, like ever.

I’m sure this event is perfect for schmoozing and what not. Getting your mug out there, coated in red wine stained kisses and, “It’s so nice to see you again” cheers complete with eyeballs straining to read your name tag. But a place to taste wine, utter horseshit. Especially for me. First off, I hate that kind of scene, don’t get me wrong I love seeing old friends and I can even get a charge from sloppy kisses and all but in the scope of wine evaluation I find that loud, cramped, shuffle, sniff, slurp and spit, (Oh, and while I’m on that. The spit buckets at this particular event were shallow, wide cardboard buckets that once a quarter full were too full if you get what I’m saying. Not always opposed to having my face covered in slobber, but a girl has to draw the line somewhere. Gross. So stinking gross and I had to remove my glasses four times to wipe the expectorated, and chunky (gag) red wine splash back) an impossible venue to get any kind of read on what I’m tasting or smelling. About halfway through I just gave up and stuck my glass out whenever Bennett, (our domestic buyer) or Randy told me to. Nodded when appropriate, smiled with my purple stained grill and just held out until we could get the fuck out of there. Like I said, giant fail.

I shall not however let that one event put me off and I am actually pretty goddamn excited to play around, explore and spread my lips for all that California, Oregon, Washington and New York have to offer. I’ve being tempted by the fruit of another and this girl aint saying no. That being said, to the Family Winemakers tasting, “It’s not you, it’s me. I just don’t swing that way.”


John M. Kelly said...

Ahahahaha!!! I simply don't do those fucking booze-fests. Not one of them. After last year I won't even participate in Pinot Fest SF, which was sort of the last that had any shred of credibility as a "trade" tasting. Every one of these things is at least a $500 table fee, $2,000 in wine, and a full day (plus) away from the shop for two of us - time we could be actually SELLING wine rather than wasting it in weaving glasses carelessly held in hands attached to people who never make eye contact, much less ask a decent question, much less follow up with an order. Fuck 'em. Bitter, much? Me? Nooooo!

Alfonso Cevola said...

Look at it this way - it gave you yet another opportunity to use your favorite word.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I think I'm getting a spine-tingling dose of schadenfreude after reading about your adventures at Family Winemakers. I've attended 15 or 20 of those affairs, including one that was held at the Santa Monica Airport in an airplane hangar that smelled wonderfully of jet fuel (or was that the Lodi Zins?), and only went for the sheer comedy. For me, it was a day off from work because I'd always get an invite from a grateful winery to dinner.

It certainly is one of the worst wine tastings imaginable if you're serious about tasting wine. And yet, it's always packed.

I knew you were attending and looked forward to your report. As always, you didn't let me down.

Samantha Dugan said...

I felt the same damn way, could have been in the shop actually selling wine rather than bumping elbows and trying to dodge the chicks in four inch heels that wreak of vanilla and coconut. Ugh.

Not to mention the inspiration the disinfect my eye wear.

Ron My Love,
Thought of you the whole time I was there and knew you would be cracking up at my reaction to the spectacle and sheer ridiculousness of it all. Stinked, that's for sure. Oh and I still love you!

webb said...

We've totally quit going to wine "festivals" for all those reasons - and we are neophytes actually trying to learn.

If you decide to really stretch your boundaries, there are many, many wineries in Virginia (some are apparently pretty well thought of) and you have a place to stay, maybe even a companion in crime.

Jennifer Land said...


I started out very inspired but the way you describe how you have actually lived your life instead of pleasing everyone and then segued into being grossed out at the description of the wine tasting... eeewww! LOL

I totally aggree with you about living for yourself and not for the pleasure of others. They need to go live their own lives, not your. You are the only one that can live your life.


Samantha Dugan said...

Seems as though those events are kind of ruining it for everyone. Even worse when they act entitled and like they are big shots. Grrrr. I've heard that the wines from Virginia were getting better, not sure they are brought to SoCal but should I get the chance I will try them and think of you! Oh and you can bet yer ass if I'm ever that way I will be looking you up lady.

It was less than fun I assure you. Living your life for you has its rewards as well as some downfalls, just need to really think about what makes you happy, what won't hurt you and how best to balance that with not hurting anyone else as well. Not easy nor is it for everyone but the older I get, the more I know, just the way I have to live.

Thomas said...

"I shall not however let that one event put me off..."

You want my advice: let that one event put you off.

What you describe covers the majority of wine tasting events that I have attended over my career, and will never again attend, now that I don't have to do it.

Samantha Dugan said...

After nearly 16 years on the retail end of this business of ours I can assure you, I've seen my share of trade tastings. Randy used to make me go to all of them in the beginning, after a few trips to Europe however, he figured I had earned my stripes or something. Now it is more of a "Get your face out there" kind of reason I'm sent to these things. All that said, Family Winemakers has to be one of the worst in terms of wine evaluation, which blows considering most of the wines are in the higher end of pricing. Hey, you and I should go to one together! We'd be like those two old men that sat in the balcony on The Muppet Show.

Thomas said...

Yeah, bomb throwing at a wine event would be even better...

Valerie said...

Trade events have one thing going for them - at least the person pouring (normally) knows something about wine. The 'fests' - you know - those monkey gaggles held outside aren't even worth the time. The wines sit in the hot sun & you ask some po-dunk winemaker about their wines only to have you come back with ... "we add pineapple to our Chardonnay to smooth it out." Oh holy mother of crap do we not 'get' wine tasting ... but you get to keep the (crappy) glass!

Samantha Dugan said...

Not sure why I get my now awkward undies in a twist, I know what to expect and still....grrrr. Not to mention the fact that tasting wine like that does nothing for the consumer, that rushed sip is so far removed from the way they will be drinking that wine, it's just lame.

Joe said...