Friday, August 17, 2012


Woke this morning sometime around 1:00 AM, both needing to use the potty and because my face felt all gunky and matted, stumbled past my bathroom mirror to see a mess of crazy bed-head, my thick frame in light pink jammies and my face still caked with yesterday’s makeup….damn you fourth glass of Fontainerie Vouvray Sec, damn you. Turns out in the wake of a whirlwind of party days, after Vegas, Boston and Connecticut, where my closest friends were visiting for a week, four glasses of wine were enough to knock my tired ass right the hell out before I could complete the proper “going to bed” procedures. Handled that potty business, spun the faucets in the sink and pumped a pool of face wash in my hands before lathering up and de-caking my mug, washing off the day’s gunk and applying the face goo that supposedly makes me look less haggy. Feeling somewhat refreshed and less slimy this was when I noticed my toothbrush still hanging over the side of the bathroom sink, with toothpaste on it, another, “Ewe gross” as I plunged the minty flavored wand in my mouth while cursing that 4th glass of wine once again, didn’t manage to brush my teeth either. Nice. Shuffled back to the bed, worried that I might have freshened myself right into being wide awake, pulled back the sheet, climbed into bed and let the hum and soft breeze from the fan lull me back to sleep, a very rare occurrence for this non-sleeper and another sign that weeks of go-go-go and a bottle of wine had taken their toll. 

Seven hours later I awoke, for real this time, made my way past the kid’s room, taking a peek in to see if he had made it home last night, past the massive but thankfully dark television in the living room, on to the kitchen where the aroma of finished coffee sped up my pace. Plunked down at the dining room table, mug of creamy coffee in my paws, fired up my laptop for my morning dose of whatever-the-fuck it is I read in the mornings. Eyes still heavy, coffee working on perking me up but not quite fused to my blood just yet and that was when I saw it, the box of hair dye I had left on the table, to remind me that I need to dye my freaking hair. The chick on the box of dye looking all happy and perfectly quaffed, no dark roots, flawless skin, nary a wrinkle…bet she doesn’t forget to wash her face, has better skin goo than I and her child, if she has one, has never said, “Hey Kunta Kinte, when you going to get to them roots?". Bitch. 

Truth be told I’m not so much good with the whole polishing of myself stuff. I have to time my root killing to my period otherwise I will simply forget, (which doesn’t always work seeing as I am now like 2 weeks past my cycle and them roots, still there) I’ve nearly given up on polishing my nails as the maintenance is annoying, I cut my own hair as to avoid sitting in a damn chair for like an hour, big ass mirror in front of me….ugh, and I can’t even bother to remember the kind of makeup and powder I use, have to write it down and keep the slip in my wallet to hand to the lady at the Lancome counter…every time. I did get sucked into buying one of those face scrubbing brushes, the ones that spin and forage for the gunk that gets trapped in your pores, thing is, I only use it once in a while because it adds like five minutes to my face washing “regime” and that is more time than I’m willing to expend most days, on something as silly as the “beautification” of me. I think my lack of interest might come from trying to fight a losing battle, being called ugly most of my childhood might have tweaked my focus, but I’ve always preferred it when someone finds me clever, funny, intriguing, interesting or even sexy over being called “pretty” or any other such nonsense. Or it might just be that I find truth in that beholder stuff and think beauty is something far too subjective for me to spend much time trying to attain. My own preferences lean toward the unbeaten path and while I can appreciate the guy with ripped abs or Olympic swimmers frames, it has always been, and will forever be, the guy with the quirky grin and fierce wit that can get me to slither out of my jeans….always. So maybe I’m just a freak.

Had a woman in the shop yesterday, she was in her late sixties, maybe early seventies, hair yellow-blonde, curled and teased into a marvelous poof, a thick cloud of very pungent perfume following her as she walked around the shop, an oddly orange hued layer of face makeup looking like putty spackled into the deep cracks of her skin, shimmering eye powder and enough mascara to make it look as if two tarantulas were resting upon her eyelids, all that while wearing the shortest short shorts and a tank top full of glitter. I’m sure that in her day she was quite the looker but the somewhat sad, almost costume like look she was sporting yesterday, simply over “polished”. Over done to the point of unattractive, trying rather desperately to compete with the “pretty girls” half or a quarter her age. “Well that was interesting” one of my coworkers said as the woman climbed into her black Mustang and drove out of the parking lot, “Really, I would say not so much interesting at all, her story is pretty easy to tell just by looking at her” I responded. 

I said it not to make fun or belittle that woman in any way, she has the right to spend her time and focus any way she wishes. Polish away dear lady and I wish you the best of luck….in whatever it is you are going for, in fact good for you in sticking to your guns and all but, forgive me if I find the little old lady that comes in every Saturday, in her visor and cargo shorts, crinkly face un made up, to buy her four bottles of grower Champagne to drink while she does her weekend gardening more interesting. Made me think of the last time importer Michael Sullivan of Beaune Imports, was leading a tasting at The Wine Country. In his ever-so-cool and relaxed fashion he leaned against the tasting bar and said, “There is nothing wrong with deliciousness, I love deliciousness, I just prefer interesting. At some point I find myself asking, is it her or the short dress?” I stood there, his words still hanging in a bubble above his interestingly attractive head, my heart thumping around in my chest as in that one comment he was able to sum up the exact way I feel about everything, including wine. Someone else gets it, gets me….thrilling that. 

As someone that has spent the past fifteen or sixteen years tasting wine, for a living, from all over the world I get truly bored and painfully uninspired by the Kardashian-like wines, the ones that have been buffed and polished right into insipid sameness, and don’t even get me started on the over-polished fuckers that have been clunked up so much that they taste and feel like sadly aging seventy year olds in go-go shorts with silly putty faces. I crave, seek out and drink wines that may never be considered “pretty” by some, are interesting as hell to me and that right there, sexy as hell in my book. 

Happy weekend all, and here's to drinking whatever it is that turns you on, gets your heart thumping, bits tingling, slithering out of your jeans and coming back for more.


marilyn said...

Made me laugh. So much to comment on. Like, been there, done that as to the first part. Though I also get the telltale makeup remnants on the pillowcases too.

I have similar thoughts on the beauty routine stuff, tho I am probably even lazier. I would rather sit in a salon chair than do my own hair coloring.

Finally, maybe if I had some grower champagne, I would find gardening a enjoyable task.

Here's to drinking interesting wine.

John M. Kelly said...

Pretty sure you said this first, here somewhere, but I have stolen the line and use it frequently: "I'm not going to bum on anybody's buzz."

But I'm completely with you; for me, it's about the "interesting" and hate to disagree with Michael but I'm not interested in "interesting" unless there is some respectable level of "delicious" there too.

I'm not mating with that glass of wine for life. Basically I'm just renting it for a few hours, like a $100 hooker. And if I'm paying for it there damn well better be a bit of delicious, but there also better be a very healthy dose of interesting if it expects me to come back for another round.

Samantha Dugan said...

I'm pretty lazy too, maybe if I were drinking Grower Champagne I might be willing to sit in a salon chair....but I doubt it!

I think what I got from Michael's comment was that there are some of us that find deliciousness in places that not everyone else does....know what I mean?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I don't know, I find the word "interesting" is more often used in a slightly derogatory sense, as in, "My, isn't your baby...interesting...looking." Or how did that blind date go last night? "Oh, she was, um, interesting." It's not a word I like to use with wine. I think I tend to prefer descriptions that are more blunt. I tend to say things like, "This wine is stupid." Everyone seems to understand what I mean.

Everyone does seem to find their delicious in different places. Wine can be as kinky as sex when it comes to taste and satisfaction. Can't argue about what gets you off. But interesting is too dispassionate for that too.

But your points are well-taken. Just arguing semantics. What, am I Thomas all of a sudden. Yikes.

I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
I think using the word interesting was me kind of being blunt. Sure we can all come up with flowery descriptors, you and I have both had to do that for years, but what word would you use to describe what I'm talking about? That thing....that thing that creeps under your flesh and makes the little hairs on your neck stand on end. That thing that doesn't give it all up in the first sniff or taste but makes you chase it around in the glass. That thing that you can't quite put your finger on and has you smelling the wine for thirty minutes, not sure how you feel quite yet...but willing to keep digging? Is there a word for that? If there is I'm sure you will come up with it but interesting, after thinking about Michael's quote, seemed to work for me. But he also thinks I'm interesting so maybe listening to him is a mistake...
I love you too!

gabe said...

Really fantastic blog. Sums up my entire winemaking philosophy.

On a somewhat related but slightly non-sequetor rant...I think that you're blog is the piece that is missing from the natural winemaking debate. Sure, we can argue over SO2 levels or strict defintions, but the idea behind natural winemaking is to deliver wines without the makeup and plastic surgery that lots of wines receive. The boobs might not be as big and perky on a natural wine, but at least they're real

gabe said...

*your, not you're. sorry about that

Sara Louise said...

I find unpolished far more interesting. When someone is so focused on being polished all the time, it seems like that is all they ever think about, and that leads to one very boring person.
I'm happy to report that my curls are usually unruly, and I have a bad habit of not taking off the makeup before bed - it's usually the wine's fault.

Samantha Dugan said...

Hadn't really thought of the whole natural wine debate in context to this but I do see the connection. That and I do so appreciate the fake vs real boob analogy, and think that much like you think this post might make a point, what you said is a very honest and real way to look at that can of worms. Nicely done mister...

When it comes to the "natural wine" debate my card is as of yet unmarked. I've had tons of thrilling, pure and both interesting and delicious wines that fall under the canopy of natural wine, but I've also had some seriously unstable, stinky and frankly, undrinkable wines selling themselves as "natural" and much like wheat grass and tofurky, they are simply disgusting....natural or not. Just too hard as a retailer to tell a customer, "Well once you get past the horse ass aromas it's tasty". Not about to do that.

I remember sitting with Didier Dagueneau, at his winery in a lovely little dining room just off the cellar, and he was explaining that while he practiced bio-dynamic farming he was not even willing to try to get an organic certification "Just takes one bad vintage to ruin us and I have too many people's livelihood in my hands" his reason. Something about that rang so true, and so organic that it made perfect sense to me. Unlike whatever that asshat of an Englishman said, the truth, from a retailers side is, a wines first job is to be good, if it's natural, even better but no wine is is getting a pass from this nose simply for being natural. So after that wee rant, I've often found that the people willing to go through all that, the cow horns and picking by the light of the moon, well many of them are so vested that their wines are marvelously vibrant in a way that the others are not. Never a consideration when I'm tasting/buying wine for the store but when I taste wines that are lit up and vibrating, never surprises me that they are natural...

I rarely like anything I write but I think, "Polished to the point of unattractive" might have nailed it a little. Wine, people, books and music....too much buffing and the soul is simply lost.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I'd offer the word "seductive." Isn't that what we want from the best wines, to be slowly seduced by them? Too many wines are love at first sight. Fun in the moment, but they don't last. The great wines are the wines that get under your skin through the force of their personality and uniqueness. Like those guys with quirky grins and fierce wit. And fake boobs.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well lookie here, a follow up from The HoseMaster! Feeling mighty fancy, and interesting now. Good Morning Sweet Man.

I actually thought about using seductive, sensual as well, but backed off as I was trying, (and I likely failed miserably) to have this piece be a tad less about emotion and more about the critical part of wine evaluation, and the way I do it. Not sure why that is, as you well know, wine is always about emotion for me...maybe I was trying to be less chick-ish? Seductive is a perfect word and I should have just used it, dammit.

gabe said...


Not trying to beat a dead horse, but I think this is why the natural winemaking movement avoids certifications or specific definitions. While some people define "natural" as wines made without sulfer, other people think natural wines can have a bit of sulfer but no additives. Some people say you can add acid or sugar but no enzymes. The list goes on and on, and (with apologies to Alice Ferring) nobody can say for sure what it means.

I know a very small handful of winemakers in the Willamette Valley making what I would consider to be natural wines (with sulfer). None of them are marketed that way, because nobody is doing it as a marketing tactic. It comes from the belief that every time you try to manipulate a wine, you always destroy some good with the bad. Someone who believes this will try to manipulate his wines as little as possible. To me, that is the natural winemaking philosophy.

I could honestly go on for hours about this, so I will edit myself. I will not defend wines that are made without sulfer and taste like ass, nor would I refuse a hundred dollar napa cab that is treated with all sorts of enzymes and enhancers. But the more I learn about how to manipulate wines, the more I can spot those characteristics in expensive bottles, and the less I enjoy them.

Samantha Dugan said...

Funny you should mention Alice, whom I adore, but it was at a book signing and tasting that I finally had to say, "Natural or not, these wines just stink!"...bought several copies of the book however!

Sounds as if you and I pretty much agree on this and I too can detect, and see as a defect at times, wines that have been over mucked with....they taste and feel soulless to me and as I said earlier, the wines that have that snap of vibrancy and extra life to them, they are, more often than not, wines that have been fucked with very little. So darlin, where is it that you make wine?

gabe said...

I am the assistant winemaker at a small winery in Oregon called Illahe.
I have been making wine since 2008, and have been doing it long enough to know that I don't know very much. Right now, I would say that I know how to make wine, but I am still learning how to deal with problems, and have only rough ideas of what I would do if I had my own label.
The real advantage of where I am right now (other than the obvious) is that I get to taste wines from all over the valley, and think about how their winemaking style affects the taste of their wines. In another example of this blog post being spot-on, the wines that are manipulated more tend to loose their punch over time, while the more natural wines usually age with much more grace.
So Samantha, since "natural wine" has become such a loaded term, how would you describe wines that fit the description of this blog? Unfuckwitable?

Samantha Dugan said...

Gabe My New Buddy,
Me thinks we get one another. Wasn't sure if anyone picked up on the connection between the sadly aging woman and how not gracefully it was happening. Seen the same thing happen with lots of fucked with over-manipulated wines, sad, withered shell of what they once were.....and far sooner than wines that haven't had all there edges "smoothed" out. As for a term other than "natural wine" you got me there kid. Even unfuckwitable is disingenuous as all wine is fucked with in some way right?

Valerie said...

Inspiring thought as to "over polished" and genuine expressions, both in person and in a glass. I had a dolcetto once (CA grown) where the winemaker chose not to cold stabilize the wine AND make it sweet. While this wine personally (to quote you) "makes the gag hairs on the back of my neck stand up", my somm teacher insisted the winemaker was "trying to hide some flaws." Would the wine have sold with less make up? I don't know, and thankfully it's all gone. I try not to yuck anyone's yumm, as I like a chewy cult cab now and then, but your post brought to mind the comparison of an overdone woman, with obviously way to much war paint, bling, and "fake parts." Seriously great writing. Again. xo

Samantha Dugan said...

I wouldn't doubt at all that the winemaker was trying to cover a flaw, the thing that bugs me when shit like that is done, gives people the wrong idea what the variety is like! Confuses the masses and in turn, makes what we do even harder. That being said, there is a HUGE market for sweet red right now, have people all day asking for them as they've tired of Stella Rosa and the like, so I wish there were more long as they don't screw with people's head by selling them by putting Pinot Noir or Dolcetto on the label. I so dig, and am not at all surprised, that you got the little inlets of suggestion in this post, as did for me when that happens.

Thomas said...

I'm with Ron on the semantics of "interesting"--or is he with me on it?--interestingly, I'm confused.

In our tasting room, I came to understand that whenever a tourist used the word, interesting, it was no sale for that particular wine.

Ladies: the word, dolcetto, is from the Italian word for sweet. Maybe the winemaker was being literal...

Samantha Dugan said...

I thought of that too but seeing as most are not sweet, I still think it was a cover up...or at the very least very confusing to the general public.

I stand by interesting. Is there a better, sexier word? Sure but I would still sooner wrap my legs around an interesting guy than a pretty one....

gabe said...

it's true that all wine is fucked with to some extent. to carry over our analogy of the woman with plastic surgery, even a hippie girl with hairy legs still takes showers every once in a while. drawing the line on when a wine becomes over-polished is almost impossible. even your example of your roots growing out (love the kunta kinte joke) seems unpolished to you, but the idea of dying your own hair would seem extremely polished to other women (like my girlfriend).

my friend sterling once said, "we're all trying to make wine as naturally as possible, but nobody wants to make something that tastes like shit". i guess my two cents is simply to say that some natural solutions do exist in the toolkit, and hopefully the more natural the winemaking, the more natural the wine tastes.

anyway, this has been a great discussion. excellent blog samantha!

Thomas said...


The problem is that what tastes like shit to one person could taste like chocolate or caviar to another.

To put it another way: to some, shit may be if not "interesting," at least acceptable. Happens every day with wine consumption across the country.

Samantha Dugan said...

Good points, all. Can't move much forward with something so undefinable, least for now. Thanks so much for reading and adding so much to the conversation, from a winemakers perspective...this was fun.

gabe said...


I hear exactly what you are saying. There are people who really enjoy the taste of Brett, which seems insane to me. I guess my thought was that - just like one persons shit is another persons chocolate - one persons natural is another persons polished.


I agree that we might have talked ourselves into a knot with this one. Fortunately, we have a lifetime to keep exploring wine and developing our ideas on the subject. I've really enjoyed this discussion as well, and I'll look forward to your blogs on similar subjects into the future.


- Gabriel

oh yeah, this is the winery where I work:
I've even got a little bio in the "about us" section (my dad was very proud). just in case you were curious

Samantha Dugan said...

As if I didn't already go to the website and check it out! Come on now, what kind of reporter would I be if I didn't stalk my readers? Great site and I adored much of the well as your bio, total cutie pie you. Thanks again, this was a blast.

Anonymous said...

that was picture day at the winery. a clean flannel and jeans is me looking polished.

gabe said...

not sure if you check the comments on older posts, but i just had a relevant conversation this morning with the head winemaker about cloudy wines.

I really like cloudy wines...I think they are a sign that your wine is hand-made and bottled unfiltered.

He thinks they are the sign of lazy and impatient winemakers.

What do you think?

Samantha Dugan said...

I think it depends on the wine. I've had cloudy wines that suck and tasted murky and I've had cloudy wines that tasted vibrant and thrilling. To make a general comment I would say more often than not, they fall in the thrilling column.

gabe said...

we actually just did some side-by-side comparisons at work, and i had to eat my words a little bit. while i still appreciate a bit of cloudiness in my wines, too much can leave a wine looking muddy. i could start talking about NTU's, but i would even bore myself to death.

anyways, thanks for the feedback!

Samantha Dugan said...

Our business is one that often has us eating...or drinking, our words. One of the things I love most about it, no absolutes and no one, no one knows it all.

gabe said...

agreed. it's fun to be constantly learning...less fun to be constantly humbled, but i guess that's part of the learning process.
funny you used the word murky in your description of a bad cloudy wine. while it tasted fine, our cloudy wine did indeed look pretty murky