“Ahhh, there we go. This wine is so much better don’t ya think? Guess I’m just a California wine gal at heart” I stood there in front of a full class of people, listened to the lilting words of a very satisfied customer, the brown sugary sweetness of whichever domestic Pinot Noir we had just poured aggressively still clinging to my horrified palate, aching for the tart and, to me, fresh tasting wines we had poured just a couple flights before and all I could think was, “You like this huh? Well that’s fine by me. You can have my glass too!”
Laurie, our domestic wine buyer and I had put together a tasting of Pinot Noir. Not a comparison per se but a showcase or perspective of Pinot Noir and how the place they are grown imprints itself on the finished wines. Part of me loves doing these events. I happen to love tasting wines from everywhere, regardless of what I personally buy and drink at home. I am a wine geek of the first order and tasting 10-12 Pinot Noirs, one of my most adored varietals, well shit howdy, count me in, but….well as much as I love doing the events I do find myself cringing when I hear the inevitable chatter of “which is better” even when the crowd happens to fall on the side of my French wines. Contrasting I freaking love, comparing, as in picking which is better, well I happen to think that is immeasurable seeing as there are such dramatic differences in palates and preferences.
I drove home that night with a bit of a hitch in my get along. Far from annoyed but seriously wondering if we should do another class like the one I had just proceeded over. Saturday afternoon tastings are more social, less focused and lighter in spirit then the more studious and focused Friday night events. Maybe Saturday would be a better and more appropriate format for the world perspective of Pinot Noir kind of deal. People could just come in, taste, talk and walk out with whatever wine moved them. Easy and fun where the Friday night I was driving home from felt too heavy and too….definitive, almost as if those in attendance had to pick a side and declare victory. Victory over?
I thought about my honest response to the woman that asked me, “Don’t ya think?” the way her grin was pulled into a tight sphincter when I told her I found the wine she and I were both tasting too sweet and a bit cloying. You’d have thought I pooped right there on the tasting room floor to look at her face. My comment not intended to upset or imply she was wrong. Not to be dismissive of the wine she liked far better than my tangy and light bodied Burgundies. I wasn’t lashing out and I wasn’t saying my wines or my way, my palate were more correct, they were just more correct for me. I was able to slip in a teensy lesson on scores and how Sphincter Face and I would have some dramatically different scores for the wines we were tasting that night and the real trick to truly enjoying your wine is to either find a palate that runs parallel to your own or find a good retailer, (ahem-ahem) that listens and learns, shops for things to please you and not for big scores or ego. I filed the night under more lessons learned, tucked that woman’s face and preferences away in that seemingly unlimited space that absorbs and retains that particular information, (can’t remember where I put my fucking keys half the time but I can remember to pull that odd Jura wine for Marilyn and I do in fact recall the wine I selected for your veggie curry the last time, it’s right this way…ugh) and sailed home with Billie Holiday’s voice all sadness and drug soaked groaning at me, that sweet-to-me wine still on my mind and palate. You’d rather drink that huh? Well Aint nobody’s business and it’s fine by me.
I’m often told that I am a customer’s favorite because we have the same taste in wine and half the time, over half the time actually, couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t drink Paso Zinfandel with barbequed ribs, or anything for that matter, I cannot remember the last time I took home a Spanish red for dinner and domestic white Rhone wines drink like gangly aliens to me. I rarely drink California Chardonnay and almost never enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. I am fully aware that my personal tastes are far from mainstream, fuck I loathe Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, pancakes, donuts, meatloaf and meatballs in red sauce and I haven’t had a Big Mac or a Burrito Supreme in nearly 20 years. I have never used a Groupon and the only special offer emails I read are from The HoseMaster of Wine and involve his special palate recalibration procedure and discounted lubricants. I embrace my weirdo status just as much as I do yours. You like Cabernet with oysters…well okay, (it’s not, that is never okay) it’s fine by me….
It would be fine by me if…..
You left me all the black Jelly Beans
You kept the Ketchup at your end of the table
You drank all the Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir
Perfume and cologne were outlawed
The sweet potato were to crawl back into obscurity
Three bean salad were to come back into popularity
You ignore Dave Matthews, (Kate and Amy…I am so shaking my head at you two.) but not to worry I’ll do my best to soothe his hurt feelings....(send help if I am not back in 4 months)
You are curious and studious about learning how I smell and want to spend hours committing my scent to your memory.
You want to write the same tired articles about soil, sun exposure and geography…I’ll scan and skim, skim and scan and walk away not giving a rat’s ass.
You drank all the Vodka. It makes me mean, venomous and less “charming” than normal if you can even freaking imagine that.
Pushed your beets onto my plate. Especially the pickled ones.
You want to meet me under the moon for a glass of something highly "acidic" and tart. Something that will make our noses wrinkle and tongues water.
You want to swallow the Kool Aid and drink high end wines with shit like Mole or shrimp tacos. It’s a ruse propagated by the hipster or desperate set but you go for it…send me an email with the details on how that went.
You want to trace that area between my neck and shoulders with the tips of your soft fingers….gently.
You only want to drink red wine, with everything.
You want to intently watch my mouth when I talk.
You let me
Pick for you
Learn from You....
Fine by me….