Thursday, December 26, 2013
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
(Image courtesy of http://www.mydoorsign.com/)
When traversing your local wine shop, how's about NOT saying these.....
“I’m not a wine connoisseur” (Always said with an exaggerated emphasis on the word connoisseur)
~ I think it is that exaggerated, mocking, nasal-rich tone with which this often delivered that bothers me the most. As if being into wine makes you a snob? Do car collectors, stamp collectors or art collectors have to deal with that? I think getting rid of the word connoisseur might help. I think wine lovers are some of the most generous and least snobby people I know, they share their wine and knowledge freely and want to teach others about this thing they love. There are those “wine snobs” and those are the people that think Sliver Oak is the only wine worth drinking….they are not wine connoisseurs either!
All real wine is red”
~ Tell that to a bottle of Montrachet you twat. This type of dismissal of all things white is not only ignorant but tells me that the one that utters such a comment, doesn’t drink as much or as richly as the rest of us. Saying you don’t care for white wine bothers me less, that's a preference, (and I will be asking which white wines you have tried..they don’t all taste alike you know, and if they do to you, your palate might be a bit,damaged.) and doesn’t belittle or make white wine seem lesser. I hear it all the time from those comb-over guys or the aging chicks in the sparkling "Mommy's Sippy Cup" shirt, the ones with a glass of red wine made out of sequins, (aren't those a fucking hoot...sigh) "I started with white wine, I've moved on". Oh you've evolved have you? Moved right on up to stupid and closed minded. Always baffles me that the ones with the closed minds are almost always the ones with the wide open flapping mouths. Shut it Benjamin Buttons.
“It’s for a woman so probably something sweet”
~ Again, it might be the tone with which this delivered, that little pang of condescension. First of all some of the greatest wines in the world, the most expensive and sought after are in fact sweet, so if the “little lady” is into that, her palate may be better than yours, so watch the tone there tough guy. Secondly as a woman that drinks dry, crisp, “sour” wines I have to say….don’t make assumptions based on gender, you could very well be wrong and it makes you look like an unenlightened tool.
“It tastes Burgundian”
~ No it doesn’t.
“Price doesn’t really matter does it? That is all just hype right?”
~ This is a tough one because there are wines out there that are sporting super inflated price tags, bloated to cartoonian laugh ability but when someone asks me to find them a wine that tastes like Meursault for $10? I'm really sorry but it can’t be done. In some cases you do get what you pay for. Dropping fruit, (low yields for you connoisseurs) so the vines don’t over produce, time spent in barrel, the barrels themselves, replanting, harvest, labeling, staffing, these things all cost money, so that cost is passed on to the consumer. Sometimes grossly, I guess but for the most part, I think wineries are honest folks looking to get a fair price for their out of pocket, and make enough money to take care of the people they employ. They aren't looking to screw you over, (well maybe Caymus, now...you might just be paying for what they "gave away" for years) and there isn't a crazy margin on most wine. I can happily find you a tasty as hell $10 wine but I assure you, won't taste like Meursault.
“I don’t drink anything rated less than 90 points”
~ Party on (insert snobby sounding voice here) connoisseur. But you might want to pull your head out of your…errr..magazine long enough to taste something and evaluate it yourself. If I tell you that I gave a little Quincy, (region in the Loire that has some fantastic Sauvignon Blanc that almost NEVER gets rated) my personal 96 points, (I never use points but for this argument I might) would you drink/try it? Whose 90 points are you drinking….does it matter or is it just the number? If you are so numbers driven how's about I pull out a giant Sharpie marker and draw a big 0 on your forehead. Buttwad.
“The bubbles in Champagne give me a headache”
~ Do you get a headache from the bubbles in your soda? No? Well, then it is probably not the bubbles that are giving you a headache, it's the cheap stuff that can give you a headache. It is poorly made, from crap quality grapes and usually has a butt load of sugar, that could contribute to the, “After free “Champagne” brunch” headache. If you are drinking the real deal followed by two bottles of Paso Zinfandel….well, that too could give you a headache my friend, don’t go blaming the bubbles right off K?
“Friends don’t let friends drink White Zinfandel”
~ Friends don’t judge, let them drink what they want. Dammit.
“Red Burgundy is thin”
~ Argh!! Just typing that one out pisses me off! Pisses me off and ties into the earlier, "It tastes Burgundian" bullshit. They are NOT thin, they are as they should be, light, elegant and loaded with tremendous flavor. If you have made up your mind about the amount of flavor by looking at the color then you will never get it, which is fine but don’t go throwing derogatory words, like thin around. Those wines are not opaque, or richly extracted and that is not a flaw, they don’t go around saying things like, “It’s very Oregon in style” or "Sonomacoastian" right? There is something to those wines, if you don’t dig it, right on more for us but stop trying to compare New World Pinot Noir to Burgundy. This ones seems to be getting worse among some "wine writing" circles but thankfully I hear fewer domestic wine makers saying it, which is so refreshing to me as those hard working folks should be touting and bragging about their own wines, of their place. Comparing Pinot Noir from Burgundy to Pinot Noir from anywhere else is not only crusty as fuck, it's apples and Oreos. Just quit it. Be proud of the wines and their specific place...and just want to point out one thing, when you hold one up as the "model" it's actually you that put one wine above another. Just sayin'
“I need a recommendation, where are the wine guys?”
~ My favorite response to this one is, “Being their boss, I gave them the day off”. I have to say in the last 10-ish years or so this has happened less and less but it still happens. Having breasts does not impair one’s sense of smell or taste, in fact there are some people that believe that women have a more sensitive sense of smell. I’m not sure about that but I do know that there are lots of women in the wine business now and they have laser sharp palates. I cannot tell you how many times I have been helping a male customer and someone will come up, interrupt us and begin asking him questions. The worst offenders…and I hate to admit this, older women! Come on ladies, where’s the solidarity? People that shop at The Wine Country on a regular basis are used to “wine girls” at one time we had 7 females and only 2 males, a fact that prompted the worst customer exchange I have ever encountered. An overly tan, cologne saturated, shirt unbuttoned...way too low, wanker in his mid to late sixties, total Florida by way of Jersey dude, comes in and after watching my mostly female staff hustle about, paying just a little too much attention if you get my drift, this cheese dick says, "Hey, looks like you could use a few more swinging cocks in this hen house." No shortage of dicks that day that's for sure. Ugh.
"I'd like something buttery, with a smooth taste."
~ Smooth is a texture or feeling not a flavor! Holy shit does this one feel like fucking Chinese water torture to me now. It may be a small thing, the whole smooth flavor thing but fuck all does it get my feathers all fluffed. Now buttery? This is just a hot mess of confusion. We get people that instinctively ask for a "Buttery Chardonnay" or the other end of it, "I just don't want a buttery Chardonnay" and even, "I'd like a Merlot, a buttery one." Took some contemplation and lots of, "So you want a wine that tastes like actual butter or?" to figure out that most of them mean one of two things. They are talking about a richness and caramel note which does in fact make a little sense in terms of butter, you know, seeing as caramel is like made from actual butter and junk. The other, and the one that I've found most often to be the desired "butter flavor" is creaminess. Again the texture being the important component for the customer standing in front of me. So while it makes me flinch like someone has a rubber band outstretched and pointed at my face, this one has in fact been a fairly valuable lesson, one that has, over the years, shaped the way I talk and write about wine. Flavors can be highly subjective, I mean it is taste which it takes only one trip to a music store, restaurant, movie, play, to prove that it is in fact all that, "in the beholder's" stuff. But just try telling that to the "I only drink 90 points" zero.
Retail man, it has its massive ups and crazy-ass lows. For the most part, even after 17 years I have to say, I can't think of another job I'd want or be as good at. Oh I'm a few light years away from having any kind of real handle on things but more often than not I can smile, clinch, and even put up with the...swinging cocks that feel the need to pipe up and offer their unsolicited suggestions. The holidays are slamming down upon us, I'm feeling it that's for sure, (why the fuck is it when I need the most sleep is precisely the time I stop doing just that?! Ughh) and today was sodden with people that are beginning to freak out, just a little. Have you ever watched a 93 year old try and pick a shade of free tissue paper that perfectly matches the two gift bags she's buying? For the bottles she bought somewhere else? After about 10 minutes watching me and my very readable face turn all bright read and scrunch, one of my coworkers, one that deals with seniors, stepped in and relieved me. Ever watched a God-fearing, church-goin, sweet angel of a woman (not me if you couldn't guess) grab one sheet each of fifteen different colored tissues and practically beg an old lady to, "Just take them home, they're free" because she too was red and scrunching after 15 minutes, (yes, a total of like 25 minutes for gift bag tissue)? It's a hoot I assure you.
The holiday topper on my day yesterday?
I walk up to an older woman and ask, "Can I help you?"
Her- "Is the lady with the short hair here?
Me- "Laurie? No, I'm sorry, she's off today"
Her- "She's the one I normally work with"
The whole time I'm thinking, "Can't be that often if you can't remember her name, she offers it at nearly every greeting"
Me- "Well, I'm sorry. She will be back in tomorrow, or I can help you if you'd like"
Her face gets sort of pinched, she huffs a few times while shifting back and forth in that kind of way that lets you know, this lady is not a fan of not getting her way.
Her- "Well, (sigh) can you help me then?" with a painfully dissatisfied look.
Playing the scene back in my head I seemed to recall offering to help her twice now but lets go for lucky number three...
Me- "Of course. What can I do for you?"
She goes on to tell me that she is having a large party, maybe 100 guests over a three hour period. She would have two kinds of punch, some spirits and soda but needed some wine, maybe in the under $15.00 price range. Not a problem, in fact a generous price range for a large function, and I set forth into domestic land, Laurie's department, to pick wines for her. I can feel her huffing behind me and at this point, were I able to pull Laurie from the spot in my ass where this huffster thought I was hiding her, I would have done so, gladly.
I wasn't sure why she was so suspicious or uneasy with me but, well these things just happen and sometimes for no other reason than off chemistry. But seeing as I am never going to be one of those, "You know, I have been doing this for (however) many years longer than ________" people, I just let it go. Until...
She rises a bit stiffer, brows arched in that, "Don't you know who I am dear" fashion and that is when she says, "You know, she (still not remembering her name huh?) gives me 15% off my purchases, do you have the power to do that?" in a tone that was dripping with condescension and....what do they call that again? Oh, that's right, bullshit.
Me- "She does? That's odd, that has never been our policy and seeing as I am her boss, this should have come through me"
She was instantly thrown off. I looked at me with shocked, almost childish looking sheepishness, placed her hand over her mouth like she just spilled a silly little secret, and began to try and untangle.
Her- "Well, it's because I run a non-profit. This party wasn't for that but I thought it was worth a shot."
I assured her that even for non-profit it is not our policy to give discounts. We make donations in the form or baskets and tickets to our tastings but being a small, independent, family owned retailer we just couldn't afford to lose that much profit ourselves. She sort of nodded and the whole time I stood there thinking, "You just tried to use your non-profit, whatever it is, to get a discount on your party wines, by lying, at Christmas time. Maybe you are too full of yourself to be ashamed, that's okay, I'm ashamed for you.
Of course I confirmed with "The Short Haired Lady" that it was a total lie. She had never received any discounting, ever. Nice. Real nice.
Much as this stuff bugs, here I sit, 1:30 AM, shaking my head and chuckling about it all.
Bring it last week before Christmas....
I'm ready and waiting for you.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
I’ve always been baffled when people say they don’t like or don’t drink Champagne,"I don’t really drink much Champagne” I know what each word means, but put together that way…just sounds like jibberish to me. How could a beverage that inspires such passion in me be so easily dismissed by so many people?! Sadly, I think I know why, "The Fancy".
“I’m going to be out with the (Insert Giant Champagne Conglomerate Here) rep this week, can we come by and taste you on a couple things?” the email read, I’d had the wines before and never thought that much of them, didn’t hate them, matter of fact, they didn’t even inspire enough intrigue for me to hate them. “I’ve tasted them before and didn’t really care for them and I don’t want to waste your time” was how I responded. Got another email saying “doesn’t hurt to try again” so I agreed to sit and taste with them, one sniff and I regretted it.
Now I’m pretty reserved when I’m tasting with a sales rep, even more so when they have a supplier with them. I don’t dig hurting people’s feelings and don’t feel the need to tell these people what I think is “wrong” with their wines, I know other buyers that do but that aint me, I taste, take notes and “it’s not my favorite” is the worst you will ever hear come out of my mouth, (unless pressed which has happened. They regretted it). When I got up from the table I said, “Not my favorite” but walking away I was kinda pissed that I caved and that we wasted each other’s time. I knew what was going to happen but I am always waiting for someone to change my mind. The tasting was an absolute bust and as the day progressed I found myself even more annoyed that wines like that have the marketing budget to get their bottles on lists all over town, which when tasted, leave consumers saying, “I don’t really like Champagne”…well, with overpriced, boring, tired, lifeless bubbles like that, it’s no wonder!
I fell in love with great Champagne 16 years ago, it was a bottle of 1989 Billecart-Salmon Nicolas Francois, it was more than I would have normally spent, $89.99 at the time, but I was talked into it and I have never been the same, that being said I feel that the wines from that estate have been creeping beyond what the bottle delivers…but Nicolas Francois will always have a special place in my heart, who knows if Champagne would have ever stolen my heart, crept into my soul and yanked me deeper into this world of wine that I love so much. So yes, a special place in my heart but with the quality it has now, and a much higher price tag, no place on my racks.
Before that fateful night, that rich mouth coating wine prying my eyes and heart wide open, I'd had plenty of bubbles but they were the mass market brands that grace every supermarket shelf…the ones that most people drink, and while I never turned down a glass of one of those, I rarely asked for a second one and almost never thought about buying them. Then I was drinking the idea or feeling of Champagne, now I drink the flavor.
While I put one after the other of those "Fancy" brands in my mouth, gave them a swish, felt the sizzle of raspy bubbles and tasted flavors that reminded me of stale butter cookies I kept asking myself, "What would inspire anyone to buy this wine a second time?” which of course had me taking a pass on bringing them in…I’m not in the business of selling one bottle, one at a time to one customer, 12 times, over. Shit that's what the grocery stores are for. I want you to love them like I do, crave them like I do, dream about them like I do and come back over and over again to fall in love all over again. If I sold anyone wines like the ones I was tasting that day, not only would I be unispired, (in fact if that were all there was I would flatly give up drinking Champagne, honestly. Rather spend that money drinking a nice Sancerre or white Burgundy) I would be contributing to that, "I don't really like Champagne" thing that bums me so.
I try not to spend too much time shit talking on the top Champagne houses, they do have some good wines, maybe a tad too pricey, but some solid wines to be sure but for the most part, their basic or non vintage bottles are really freaking BORING…that and they make so damn much of the crap that it often sits in warehouses, (of the distributor) for God knows how long, getting tanky and stale tasting…ewe. I can honestly say I have had more off bottles of Veuve Clicqout. Moet and Taittinger than any other Champagne I have ever had….really harsh when you think about the fact that I try those maybe twice a year…if that, stuck at a trade event, handed a glass at someone's house, or in a restaurant with a friend in the middle of a serious Champagne jones…that’s a pretty crappy average if you ask me. So I won’t go so far as to say I hate them, but I will say that I don’t trust them…and there are just so many better bottles to be had. So if you don’t like Champagne or don’t drink it often, maybe it’s just that you haven’t had some really good ones, and by good ones I mean wines made from special little plots of land, created by a person and not some recipe handed out by the marketing moguls….don’t go thinking Perrier Jouet flower bottle when I say good because it costs a lot. I’ve had it, it’s fine…not great, not that exciting, but fine. The thing is, for that kind of coin you can get two bottles of exceptional grower Champagne and discover what greatness truly is.
Last night I had the very real privilege of hosting and pouring some outrageously cool, tiny production, somewhat geeky grower bubbles, even some from right here in Cali-for-ni-a. It was a last minute tasting that I sort of begged Randy to let me do. We like to plan our events way in advance, gives us time to promote them and fill the seats, that was why I had to do my little "Pop Up" event on a Wednesday, calender was full for the rest of the year. I was watching all these wicked cool wines come in, was stocking them on the racks and I found myself grinning like a fucking idiot and petting the damn things. I knew I had to get these wines in front of people. Not just talk about them but pour them, stand there and explain the salty, brininess in the Blanc de Blancs from Jacques Lassaigne. Let my pudgy arms flail as I groaned over the exotic spicing in the Laherte Freres Brut Rose. Lean over people's shoulders and purr, "How fucking sexy is that?" after pouring them a glass of Coessens Blanc de Noir.
Had to be done, if for no other reason than to settle my soul. Wines like those, they haunt me. They make me think of them long after, sometimes months after, I have tasted them. I knew there were others, (thank Gawd for you people!) and I knew they would get it. As I watched the reservations come in fast and furious, for a geeky little sparkling wine, midweek event and there are still a bunch of seats available for Our Best Cabernet Sauvignons of 2013, on a Friday night? Well I was, am, so goddamn proud of that. We were among the very first stores to walk away from the easy sale of Grand Marques Champagnes, to kick Clicquot and Moet out and instead offer Agrapart, H. Billiot, Jose Dhondt, R.H. Coutier and now many, many others in their place. Never and easy road and we talked and talked and talked some more...but that blue in the face, well it worked. Here we are, the morning after an event that we didn't even plan, me glowing like a idiot and getting message after message from the people that were in attendance, gushing and thanking us. Thanking us....
So do this old bird a favor, before you utter phrases like, “I don’t really like Champagne” or just write the marvelous, frothy beverage off as something you toast with, get your hands on a couple of really serious grower Champagnes, really taste them,we're waiting for you.
Maybe let me...tickle your fancy....
Monday, December 2, 2013
On my way to work Saturday afternoon, my mood high enough, ish. Nothing plaguing me other than some residual work anxiety, not anything out of the realm of manageability, just your typical pre-holiday freak out along with residual panting. Some of the little bits of my ever changing personal life slipping into spots that while not totally comfortable just yet, have been making me feel, which is just about as welcoming as anything I can think of. Least in my current state. I was rolling in my badass ride, (Camry) about forty-five minutes late, (the only thing I love about the closing shift, don’t have to open so I can slither in a bit late) speeding a touch and with my music about five clicks louder than it should have been.
“There are words that should be whispered gently
That's evidently the way to start
If I tell you what my dreams have been demanding
Let's call a heart a heart
Maybe you would call a true confession
And indiscretion on someone's part
But if I'm to say how madly I adore you
Let's call a heart a heart”
Billie’s voice sticky with pain and saturated with her preferred medication. I heard the smoke bouncing off her vocal cords and flinched with each heroin soaked slur. The tin can sounding recording filling the cavernous emptiness of my car, the pop and scratch of a tiny needle being pulled across vinyl, the faint hiss and soft sputter of a disc spinning, the sadness and begging of a tragically gifted soul. The words surged against me like a giant wave taking me under. I held my breath, heard her, like actually heard her, and pictured what kind of woman I might think I’d have been had I been there, hearing her sing this song for the first time.
Fingers strumming the steering wheel, my own bruised and smoke damaged vocal cords expanding in my throat as I crooned along with the Lady Day. Visions of myself, in the early 40s, one of those women uncomfortable in the days clothes, choosing instead to lounge about my, assuredly messy, and tiny apartment in Harlem, (oh you can bet your ass that would be me) in some sort of silky slip or sturdy bra and oversized panties, garters and a cigarette hanging from my gin soaked lips. Feeling Billie and aching to contribute the way she did. Maybe messy, maybe ornery, maybe sad and longing, but making people tremble and want the way she was making me.
“When we are in a friendly situation
My conversation may not be smart
But if we've to have a perfect understanding
Let's call a heart a heart”
The song ended and I reached for the car stereo remote. A red light afforded me the time fondle and flip, settle on some mindless and soulless piece of pop music that made me bounce a bit and think just a wee bit less. Light change and I began my travels again. On my way to the start of our store’s 18th holiday season. Coast, snarl at the jackhole that cut me off, bop to the industrial and somewhat insipid music and that was when I happened to catch a glimpse of a wonderfully familiar sight. A vintage car resting in the driveway of a house I pass twice a day, nearly every day. Saw big loopy burgundy colored bows, fake green shrubbery, the subtle white lights dangling and while it was daylight and they were not lit I knew, white icicle lights….always. I instinctively reached for the knob on my stereo and turned the volume of whatever asshole bit of senseless music I had thundering, down, rested my foot a bit on the brake pedal, took a second to look and had tears in my eyes when I saw, “18 Years Cancer Free” on a proud and noble banner that stretched across the garage door….of a house that I pass twice a day nearly every day, and have for almost 18 years.
Got home that night, the day a bit slower than I had hoped but still full of new faces, people coming in to rent our new wine storage lockers, seeing Dale’s face beam each and every time we went back to the office and told her, “There is someone here that would like to rent one of your lockers”. Her bit of the business that doesn’t require tasting notes or recommendations. A place for her, beyond gift baskets and accessories, a place that she and her brother worked on to make happen, a place she had to finish on her own. Her beloved brother sadly, and shockingly passing away before he got to see the space, smell the “wood stained” metal, before the first lock was clicked. I couldn’t stop watching her all day. Marking the angle of her gorgeous smile, the height of her eyebrows when her eyes would expand with excitement. I felt her missing him. Felt our store growing and changing because of what they did…
My dance with Billie that morning still on my mind I popped in my earbuds and spun the little turnie thing on my ipod. Shifted from Dave to James Taylor. From Alison Krauss to Amy Winehouse and while I can always find some sort of ease in music it was Billie that was on my mind. I pressed the spinner again, hovered over her name and selected that dope soaked groan and shallow, hard metallic stabs of vintage music to thump around in my noggin while the number 18 swam about in my subconscious.
The Wine Country is now 18, my drive by cancer survivor an 18 year reminder of courage and hope. 18, a number that seems so small when I think of it in terms of age but when a more sane me thinks in chunks of time, well that number is sort of a big one…
I had been 18 all of thirty eight days when I gave birth to my son, two months early and with a mother that dropped me off at the emergency room talking to the nurses but not me. I was seven months pregnant, terrified, not working, not with the man that assisted in my situation and assuming I would have to give my son up for adoption, to save us both. That wee soul and his tiny fingers, three pound body that showed up without heartbeat or breathing, he struggled to be here, fought for air, battled to feed, wiggled closer to the incubator wall whenever I would awkwardly coo at him through the thick plastic. The second those bitty digits bent around mine I knew, he fought for me so I would do the same for him. Forever. From that day at 18 years old until the day they had me plugged up to machines that helped me breathe…
“It doesn’t look good. I hope you make it” the late night call that made me the matriarch of our little family. My sister had been 18 all of nineteen days when an embolism would change her life. Change our lives in ways we weren’t even close to being ready for. She was 18 when she came to live with us and while I would never, in a million years, give us any credit for the woman that she has become, coming here was the start of a journey for her that would lead to her life now. Meeting the man she would fall madly in love with and marry. Her drive and resolve, astounding intellect and compassion to help others that has her now a speech pathologist with a legion of adoring wees that love her. How could they not? She’s amazingly strong, beautiful, funny, and brilliant and has one of those laughs that make the entire world within earshot laugh right along with her. Just being the tiniest fraction of her 18, well as hard as it was on all of us, probably her most of all, I am proud to have shared in it just as she did mine…
“Welp, here are the keys. We are going to head over to the hotel and wash this humid off us” me making light and pretending that the smudges of black eyeliner that had melted into my cracked face were due solely to the humidity there in Louisville. Jeremy was 18 and moving into the dorms, the ones that were a trillion miles away from me. I faked humid face melting but I had been crying for weeks. I was barely formed when this tiny person came into my life, tugged at my heart and boot straps, made me whole enough to be there…saying goodbye to him. We grew up together he and I and standing there, handing over the keys to his 1993 Camry before climbing into the rental car that would take me away from that most crushing spot of land on the planet, the one where I would leave my baby to make his own 18 year old mistakes and triumphs, well it assured me that no matter how old we can still have that 18 year old fear, and optimism.
That folks don't criticize me but I'm going to do
Just as I want to anyway
And don't care just what people say
Just as I want to anyway
And don't care just what people say
If I should take a notion, to jump into the ocean
Ain't nobody's business if I do
If I go to church on Sunday, then cabaret all day Monday
Ain't nobody's business if I do”
Ain't nobody's business if I do
If I go to church on Sunday, then cabaret all day Monday
Ain't nobody's business if I do”
Billie still in my ears as I swayed back and forth in my kitchen making dinner. I made my mother’s Thanksgiving dinner that night. The stuffing with way too much butter and plump raisins, the pan I would “over-cook” to perfect crispiness. The super crunchy turkey skin and dried white flesh beneath it. The sweet pickles, black olives, chunky un-whipped mashed potatoes. Found myself adding a little jalapeno cream cheese to those chunky spuds, reduced the gravy rather than adding Wondra flour, had picked out a Vouvray and Bourgogne Rouge to serve with the meal, something that I’d never seen, wine, at the Thanksgiving table until I started at The Wine Country, and didn’t bother with the tiny rolls that she used to sweep with salted butter and sprinkle with sugar. My mother’s influence there but with all the little bits of, 18, flavoring and seasoning me, my family and our meal just as much as she did.
Did a tiny bit of internet scanning and found that much like my sister, my son and myself, Billie Holiday started her life, no matter how tragically, when she turned 18 and cut her first album. I sat here this evening listening to garbled and sloppy sounding old recordings from her. Melting under lyrics like, “I’ve got it bad and that aint good” and “Lord above me, make him love me” and laughing as I picked at leftovers and slurped at glass after glass of Vouvray, (the last wine I shared with my mom, it made her toot which always, always made her laugh uncontrollably….which also made her toot) when I heard a recording of her from 1955 where she grumbled, “They kept telling me I had to sing up tempo. Pop songs. I told him, fuck you, I wanna sing what I wanna sing”….
She sang what she wanted
The store continues to grow
I swallowed spoonful after spoonful of blood and fear
My sister became the wonder that she is
My son had the courage to leave and come back
I’ve gotten to see it all…
I feel 18 again, only better.
In other words, Richard Land, fuck you.
In other words, Richard Land, fuck you.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Just a few minutes ago, I passed through my home without one thought of you but somewhere between washing the days grime from my face and passing through the kitchen still lingering with the evening dinner aromas; onions, lemons, seared flesh, my mind flickered, a faint memory, a night of which I have barely spoken…my night with you, the way I had longed for it and the way it went tragically wrong.
I’m not romantic by nature but there is something fascinating about the way these things happen. The way one look, one touch, one unspoken but inferred and saturated line of words can peel off a layer of fear, skin, armor, or how something as harmless as an invitation to dinner can change forever what you thought you would…or would not do. How quickly we can get lost, lose our footing and stumble into something we were in no way ready for…my night with you, that night…I let myself stumble and I spend more time than I care to admit thinking about it.
I have wanted you for as long as I can remember, thought about touching you, having your scent envelop me, have my breath smell of you, feeling your power overtake me and letting myself soften and squish beneath your weight. I had let my mind spin about in wondrous stories about how it may happen, where we would be, who might be with us, when I would know, know the second it was about to happen…when you were ready to surrender, open up and let me take you in.
To harbor such desire for so long, to let your mind play while your body is unable to..only stokes the want, makes the longing more deliciously painful, even thinking of those years before that night, make me wish I could go back there…pay closer attention, know what I wanted more, know what part of you I might linger over the longest. Would I spend my, much ached for seconds hovering over you…taking deep lung filling smells, let your aroma seep deep inside of me, saturate each open bit of me, or would I let my tongue be my memory, let your taste spread all over me and be the one that I would measure all others against? Flashes, fantasies, seconds, minutes, hours…all you, they all belonged to you, to Us and it was all lost, in one night.
Have you ever wanted someone so bad that you quiver at the very thought of it, have a physical reaction to the mere idea of being close enough to smell their hair, taste the salt on their skin, dreamed of that three hour second just before your lips touch? The way your heart pounds and breathing gets more labored and desperate with each tiny inch closer to touching, flicking, biting, shaking and the inevitable prying of the lips. Eyes closed, mouth open, welcoming, wanting and waiting...
Now there has always been all kinds of chatter on the internets about bloggers, wine critics and credibility, and one thing that keeps flashing before my skimming-of-the-chatter-eyes, "the only way to truly judge a wine fairly is to taste it blind” and to that I have to say bullshit, or sort of bullshit.
To remove the acquisition aspect of some wines is like making love to that person you have been wanting for years... craved, lusted for and spent hours devouring from afar....finally feeling them wet and beneath you or firm and above you, with the lights off. Would it mean as much if you had no idea who it was? It may not change the actual physical sensation but part of the pleasure is in the, having, for some of us anyway. So okay, you just made love to someone, it was nice…maybe not the best you have had, but viola, you turn on the lights and it’s Scarlett Johansson…change anything? Would it have changed anything if the lights were on BEFORE?! Okay, I’m being sexist, for the ladies lets imagine Denzel Washington, The HoseMaster of Wine, Adam Levine, (had to look that up, Sexiest Man Alive? Hesh up) or George Clooney…although speaking as a hetero female, Scarlett? Dude, so down...she makes my flesh all pink and puckery and junk...
Spent a night years ago picking these wines apart...blind. Sat at a paid for dinner while a bunch of more-money-than-me jackwads pissed and picked apart these sensual, rarely seen this open treats. Me fumbling with my pen and even then wondering why I was there. You procured these wines, invited all of us to taste...
In the interest of, I don't know what. Honesty?
Honestly, had I known what I was rolling about in my mouth, I might have taken a fucking second to pay just a bit more attention.
If I had only known....
Saturday, November 23, 2013
“I don’t need no concert in the city, got a stereo and The Best of Patsy Cline.
Aint got no caviar, no Dom Perignon but as far as I can see I got everything I want.
I got all I need and it’s alright by me.
I got shoes under my feet and forever in her eyes staring back at me. It’s alright by me”
A simple but soothing voice, warm and soulful spilling into my ears, filling my head and causing me and my stress bearing shoulders to sway. My neck loosening and all the tiny bones that run down my back unclenching as the banjo, fiddle and honey soaked voice coaxed the exhale I’ve been chasing for months from my chest. I felt the arches of my feet raise as my toes did as they want to do. Tugging across the carpet, up, down, back on the heels as my teeth dug deep into the fleshy bit of my bottom lip and my floppy hair spilled across my forehead covering one eye, my head bobbing to the playful, joyful, thankful bit of music that pumped through my entire being. Pulled at my core and made me actually smile…like a real, genuine, sincere smile. That ugly thing has been on hiatus as of late. Sure I can fake it like The Best of Cinemax chicks but to catch myself in an increasingly rare moment of sheer joy? Well I would have been pink-cheeked had I not needed it so fucking badly.
Wasn’t the music really, although I have found former Hootie and the Blowfish star Darius Rucker’s solo, more country stuff wicked enjoyable, and I do still find him a whole lotta dreamy, it was the simplicity of the words, the story and meaning behind them that had me bent, swerving, feeling the tender and plushy bits of old carpet scraping against my flesh as my feet shuffled beneath my chair. The message, “I don’t need no five star reservations, got spaghetti and a cheap bottle of wine….as far as I can see I got everything I want. I got a roof over my head, the woman I love laying in my bed. It’s alright by me.” Resonating and pinging like one of those silver pinball balls through me, bouncing around and slamming against the bars gaining points and momentum.
Yup, been sucked into some wretched pre-holiday uckiness that has sunk its teeth into my neck and has drained everything out of me. My laughter. My snarl. My bite. My inquisitive nature. My desire. My indignation. My cravings. My drive. All of it buried under a pile of “How come?” that probably hasn’t any answers. It just is. People come, leave, chose you and chose to leave you. Move on to better themselves, dislike you for no and a hundred reasons, the trying to figure it out and fix it, Your issue not theirs. With the playful pluck of banjo strings and Darius Rucker filling me from the inside out I started thinking about the things that matter. The ones that are “Alright by me”
Kicking my shoes off after a long shift. Alright with me because it feels nearly as good as wet lips along my ribs.
The sting of ice on my teeth when I sip a much needed, icy martini. Alright with me because I fucking earned it.
When the sleep timer on the television in the bedroom kicks off. That metallic pitch right before the whole room goes dark and the silence. Feeling like I can hear the tips of my eyelashes brush against my cheek as I lie in the dark quiet and remember…Alright with me because I need that time to, well remember.
Seeing my mother’s face, in my face. Alright with me because I’m beginning to look more like her, a legacy I’m proud to have changed a bit and when I see her looking back at me through the mirror in the mornings, I miss her less and hope that if there is a way, she’s proud of me.
Sobbing while watching a sappy chick flick love story. Alright with me because I know how they feel…
The sting of bacon grease when it spatters on my skin. Alright with me because it means I’m cooking and creating nourishment that will likely, hopefully, bring some people I love joy…worth it.
Detecting a corked wine. Alright with me because I am still the #1 corked wine sniffer outter at The Wine Country. Got a little skill there me…
Crying because I failed. Alright by me because it means I tried.
The way I rant, stomp about and create little flaming disasters. Alright by me because as much heartbreak as I’ve swallowed and given, these veins of mine are still vibrant and pumping.
The way I can sometimes smell the night before leaking out of me. Alright by me because I am fine with being less than fucking perfect.
That I am often pinned against a wall with someone “misunderstanding” me. Alright with me because if I’m throwing that off, well I can’t be mad, I feel sort of girlishly pleased. But um, back the fuck up.
That the last vintage of Pierre Guillemot Savigny Aux Serpentieres filled my mouth a little more than this one. Alright by me because it means I’ve had several vintages of that glorious wine spill across my palate leaving a stain that I can’t forget.
“I didn’t think that wine was drinking. I think I want more fruit or more aged Burgundy than what you have here” sort of Alright by me because it makes me strive harder, work harder, look deeper.
The rash I have gotten from wearing sweats that are too big while I am working out. Alright by me because those irritated little bits of skin remind me that I am making myself uncomfortable in an effort to make myself more comfortable.
Being told that I am closed minded because I don’t tout or promote certain wines. Alright by me because I am now looking for the best prices on airfare to France in April because I have been asked to attend the Les Artisans du Champagne at Les Crayeres as well as having the importer invite me to stay on through Burgundy and the Loire. Big, (as in fat) fish in a smallish pond, never in a million years would have thought…
I get annoyed with my staff at times. Alright by me because it means that I expect more, because I know they have it in them, and we wear the badge of being…better.
I’m like a savant when I make love. I spend hours letting my fingers trace and file away each and every inch of the very few men I have ever succumb to in that way. Alright by me because it means I was in love enough to spend hours, days if you would have let me, with my fingers, nose, eyes and mouth gathering and categorizing your each millimeter. Loving like that is alright by me…
I don’t particularly like Cabernet Sauvignon. Alright by me as there are so many other varieties that need me, my nose, my lips and my particular brand of RAWR more.
I was once married under the moon to a man that spent years trying to run away from me. Alright by me because I still love him and all I need to do to visit with him is slip outside. The trickle of water over stones, the in and out of my own breath, the big swollen moon hanging above the both of us, the “My Love, I miss you so” always just there beneath the moon and waiting…just as I will forever be
I like to fancy myself some sort of a writer and at times, I am terrified to speak. Alright by me as it assures me that I am still as humble and befuddled as ever. I still giggle when I hear someone call me a specialist and seeing the names of the people I do in my email box….even now, takes my breath away….
At the end of the day, no matter how long and full of bullshit…I have this one voice, these wide open eyes, a heart that while bruised is still vulnerable to true love. A palate that is respected and encouraged, willing and wanting to learn more. I wear an older lady’s face while still having a young woman’s laugh. I protect those I love more than I would ever myself. I am sad but full of hope. I don’t want to talk but I want you to hear and feel me. I’m forever afraid and waiting for the other shoe but….I got this stereo and The Best of Patsy Cline. Spaghetti and a cheap bottle of wine…
Alright by me.