Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not The Worst Thing

Okay yeah, it’s official…I want the holidays to be done already. There has been no merriment, no gushing of emotion and joy, this season has felt perfunctory, down-right obligatory and I for one hate that crap. I’m not one of those, “toss a grin on and smother your discomfort” kinda chicks. When and if I am pissy, you’re gonna know it…I like wear it on my face and junk, but working retail during the holidays has forced me to perform this, this face cracking, fake ass task…the grin and bear it one, and I have felt every ounce of bullshit weighing me down. Counting down the days, I’m simply counting down the days at this point…hell, we even tossed the poor tree that sacrificed its life, you know…for the festivities and all, in the garbage days before New Year’s Eve. The reason cited, “It was kind of blocking the TV” um, happy birthday Jesus, now move the hell over because I can’t watch the Laker game.

I know I’m not alone; my little Grinchy post assured me that we are all kind of in the same boat this year. It snuck up, was in our face and now it’s pretty much over..just a couple more days and we can look to a new year, a clean start, a do-over. Damn, just writing that, just mentioning that 2009 is about to be swept under the rug, well…it made me feel just a touch better. 2009 ended up feeling like one of those survival years, like all of us were just dropping our heads, busting our asses and doing our best to just make it through. Nothing tragic, nothing horrible really, but nothing really codifying or unifying either. Even the swearing in of our first black, and wicked cool president couldn’t keep things bubbling, sure we were all fired up for a bit but that goddamn reality sunk in and dag-nab-it if we weren’t right back in the, funk. Tugging that feeling along all year inspires little more than an exhausted sigh, stunning that shoppers didn’t turn out in droves right?

The shop was pretty slow yesterday, left me plenty of time to clean up the online store and what not but the sound of my nails clicking away on my keyboard only reminded me that there were no customers in need of my help…so depressing. I got home and found that my little funky mood had followed me. The boys were making dinner, I had nothing pressing to handle and I could just chill….um, being alone with your thoughts when you are in a crappy mood, well it just stinks. I pouted a bit but tired of my own whining and after pouring myself a rather sizable glass of wine I shuffled to the bathroom….a bath, a hot bath would help me clear my head and my somewhat heavy heart.

The hot water on my bare skin made me suck in my breath, but in that, “Oh God that feels good” kind of way. I sat there letting my skin turn pink, scooping handfuls of water into my cupped hands, watching the steam dance between my fingers, letting the warm liquid trickle down my wrists as I splashed water over my shoulders. Big glass of Pinot Noir wearing, “girl in the tub” droplets that puddled at the base of the glass, Dave Matthews, (Google alert) crooning words of love, rebellion and want in my ears, “Red is the color, of the sun with my eyes closed, I can still taste you…and I will again”. I felt like a jackass for being such a freaking baby about everything and asked myself the question I always do in times like these… “Is this the worst thing?” and the answer was, as it always is, Not even close.

“I’m five months pregnant” those were the last words that escaped my terrified lips just seconds before I was ever hit by a boyfriend. That hit was the last time I was ever hit as a girlfriend. I was 17, stuck in a relationship with a man that treated me horribly….had never hit me before, never even threatened to before, but went out of his way to make me feel like the most disgusting human on the planet. Now before you go feeling all sad for me keep in mind that I allowed this, listened as he told me he was embarrassed to be seen with me in public, made fun of my misspellings in my love letters and told me that he preferred a certain sexual position because he didn’t have to look at my face. I took all of that and as horrible and pathetic as that is, I think I was seeking something, trying to ignite something within me…

That first hit and accusation of, “trying to ruin his life” was in fact exactly what I needed to pull myself out of the self loathing goo that I found myself submerged in. Trying to ruin your life?! I hated him, think I always hated him, but at that second, looking at his gapped tooth face seething hate and rage at me….I knew, I deserved more. I knew it would be my life that would be up heaved by having a baby, my mother that would not speak to me for months and ultimately, my pride that would keep me from asking this sorry son of a bitch for anything. My son was born two months later and his fight to be here, well it inspired a fight in me unlike anything I had ever known.

Ten years, ten years after that first hit and I was still being held hostage by hate and pure evil. The kind of evil that would track someone down, smack a bat against a woman’s face and body in broad daylight, the kind of evil that would run her car off the road, break into her home and remove all the doorknobs and locks…leaving a calling card scrawled in lipstick on her bathroom mirror, “You’re a selfish bitch and you will pay”…I stood there shaking, terrified and not knowing what to do while reading that message. I knew I was afraid, hell I had spent ten years being afraid….didn’t go out, rarely left the house for things that were not work related and spent every second waiting for that other shoe to drop, and that’s when it hit me…I cannot stop any of this. Didn’t know when or if it was coming, couldn’t stop it if I did…so why the hell was I spending whole days, months, years worrying about what might happen?

That final night, (final for the me that was paralyzed with fear) I thought about the women in my life, my mother, my grandmother…both beautiful women, smart women full of raw talent, (my grandmother could sing, my mother could draw…I can do neither dag-nab-it) but they spent their whole lives being miserable and afraid, lived that way and died that way. I knew I wanted more for myself, more for my son, more for the people whose lives I was a part of…that was the night that I decided that I would no longer live in fear. No more sitting at home waiting for the bad shit to show up….it would or it wouldn’t, me putting my life on hold or living within the confines of my home wasn’t going to stop it. No the only thing my self imposed lockdown was doing was stopping me.

As I washed the evil lipstick note from my mirror and waited for the maintenance people to come install new knobs and locks I made myself a promise, “I will not spend the rest of my life….however long it might be, in fear nor do I want to wake up one day and realize that I had a life full of Wednesday nights”. That night set in motion the life that you all see now, the life full of laughter, love, passion and slightly wild behavior. I often hear things like, “Wow, you’re crazy” or “You drank all that on a Tuesday night?” in varying tones from admiration to fear and all I can respond is, “I would rather hang it all up, sleep the rest of my life away than live in someone else’s idea of what MY life should be”

Sitting in the tub reminded me of my promise, reminded me that a year that was less than stellar, is not the worst that can happen….not even close. This year is nearly over, there is light at the end of the tunnel and today, while less than perfect, is a brand new chance to live in my life, laugh in my life and love in my life….I’m gonna.

Tonight I will bid a farewell to 2009, try and remember all the amazing moments I spent with it, toast its demise with R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut and 2000 Camille Saves Grand Cru Brut, and tomorrow morning I will shuffle my more than likely, hungover ass to the fridge and pop a bottle of Godme Grand Cru Brut Rose. I’ll raise my glass, crack my slightly evil grin and say, “Okay 2010…what ya got?!”

Happy New Year to you all
Thank you for sharing your time with me
Now get away from your damn computer
Drink something amazing

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hate Photos But....

So I allow very few photos to be taken of me…like ever. Hate it and most of the pictures that are out there have, at the very least my hand trying its best to cover my ugly mug but, I just had to not only allow this picture but I even requested it.

Monday night is a new sort of date night around these parts, Monday night is when me and my much adored neighbor, (the one that many of you have been reading about for like…years) have a standing dinner date. We go to Mario’s, (divey Mexican place across the street) for dinner. Tyler and I manage to sit together and somehow end up getting in trouble each and every week. It started with cars, we would crash his toy cars into the basket of tortilla chips, when that got old we started with the wet napkin fights…my personal favorite. This is where Tyler and I soak our napkins in our water glasses, wring them out and lob them at one another. This game would have been fine if my little buddy didn’t have such a wicked throwing arm….damn kid tried to toss a wet one at me and ended up hitting the purse of a woman three tables over. Like I said, we get in trouble a lot.

I look forward to these dinners like you cannot even imagine. I spend so much time being like, in charge of stuff, controlled and dunno…grown or something, this hour or two with the cutest kid ever just knocks all the fancy off me, all the serious, all the pressure….I get to play and I love it, I need it.

When we first started going out he was shy, it would take most of the dinner hour for him to come around and actually play with me…now, well now I get gummy, peanut butter and jelly sandwich fingerprints all over me the second we sit down. The new fun game is pinching my sides, dropping his sizeable melon on my shoulder and, “I want to give you a hug” comments…um, can you say giant-goo-filled-puddle? His new fascination with grabbing my boobs and telling me I should get naked, well…..guess that is the way it starts right? Somehow with him that kind of comment just makes me laugh, wrap my arms around his tiny frame and I find myself hunched over in our cramped little booth giggling. That blonde dome and big blue eyes giggling right along with me….love, I simply love this kid.

So for those of you that have been following the Sam and Tyler saga, we are still bestest friends, he draws me pictures, makes me laugh, soothes my wine filled head and not only lets me be me…he seems to like dig me and junk. As for me….well, I’m impervious to his big-eyed, funny faced charms…and I am so full of shit, he wrecks me.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Regifting...Really A Bad Thing?

I was up way too early the other morning watching some, on-at-the-ass-crack, morning program on MSNBC and they were discussing the most regifted holiday gift…wine, it was wine. At first this sent a little pang to my heart, both because I hate to hear any negative slant on my beloved beverage and as someone that works in a retail wine store, during hash economic times no less, well we don’t want to hear anything that may discourage people from coming to us for their holiday gift giving needs, but something interesting happened the longer I listened. One of the talking heads was saying that she often regifts bottles of white wine she’s given, (don’t even get me started on those red wines only people…um, does not make you cool or more knowledgeable, makes you short sighted and drinking like a newbie. I hear that and I already know what kind of wine, “drinker” I’m dealing with…crusty. These are the same people that adore Champagne but hate white wine…um, stop it. Like the guy that won’t drink Sancerre, (white wine being fruity and for the ladies and all) but loves Paso Zinfandel…dude, shall we check the residual sugars? But I digress) and the guy she was talking to said that he often regifted red wines as he prefers white.

Now aside from my head splitting apart from the whole, “who drinks what” thing, something occurred to me, so if you gift a wine to someone that does not like that type of wine, would you rather them drink it because you want them to, or help them solve a gift giving problem but using the gift to please another? Is not the ultimate goal to please? In this kind of regifting situation you have pleased two people, the receiver that was in a gift giving bind and the eventual recipient of the bottle you purchased…that’s all good right? I’ve had people come in the shop and say things like, “I want to get them a bottle of wine but I don’t want them to just give it away”…never quite understood why people are so concerned about what happens once their gift is given, seems a tad controlling and just a smidge arrogant to me…the way in which they receive pleasure from your gift should be of no interest, just that did in fact enjoy it right? I know I have, "enjoyed" giving away a bottle or two of Rombauer Chardonnay I was guilt in letting it whither on my kitchen counter, placing it in the hands of someone I know will adore it...well, hell that's a win win for me!

So it just so happens I was given two amazing gifts of wine this year, a case of older French wine and a bunch of older, cult-ish California wines. The thing that struck me about these gifts was that they were more than bottles of wine, they were treasures that had been saved, tucked away, cherished. Wines that someone had purchased, (or was given for all I know) and that they had laid down, resisted and waited to savor….time, within my gifted boxes of wine I was given the gift of time. What’s the going rate on time and patience these days? Um, I’m going to have to say priceless. The fact that two people felt their time and patience was worth sending to me…um, speechless, left me speechless. How does one say thank you for such a thing?

So as I sat fondling my bottles, (yes…yes I did, total dork I know) I started thinking of when, where and with whom I might share these newly acquired treasures. See the thing is, a bottle of wine is more than a beverage, it’s an experience. The right bottle, on the right night, with the right person/people and that bottle can be elevated to legendary status. The, “Oh my Gawd do you remember that wine” and “If it hadn’t been for that bottle of (insert name of super special wine here) I would have never, (insert whatever naughty behavior here)”.

Even if the bottle becomes one of those, pop while cooking dinner after a long day bottles. The way that first sip can wiggle down your spine, soothe each and every little ache, steal your thoughts from the mundane daily doings, coax you into a mellow, soft shouldered state….a seduction of sorts. Touching you, caressing, dancing across your day weary palate…bringing much needed, much longed for pleasure after a long hard day at work….um, would you really give a crap where the person that was responsible for this….feeling, got the bottle? I for one wouldn’t, just the fact that they saw fit to share it with me….

Buy them, tuck them away, share them, give them away but know that whoever is lucky enough to eventually pop those corks will think you’re quite generous and be very grateful for the….experience.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wow, That's Real Bad

Okay so I said I would not have time to post but I find myself wide awake, (even though I woke to find our coffee pot had passed away over night….sigh, so sad. Sad for the poor little pot and also very sad for this caffeine needing retail worker on what is bound to be a long busy day) quite early this Christmas Eve morning and felt compelled to share a story that a customer shared with me.

“Can I help you find anything or answer any questions for you?” I asked the somewhat tallish man standing in my Burgundy department. “I’m in heaven right now. This is heaven” said the loudish English accent. As I began to walk away he shouted, “You have a second to hear a story?” to which I replied, “Absolutely”.

The Story

So I was being totally lazy, just trying to save myself a trip over the hill, so I stopped in at, (Gonna leave the name of the store out here. I’ve gone after them before and I don’t want this to sound like some petty grievance against one store but, it rhymes with Chevre No) Store X. I walk in and ask a clerk where the White Burgundy section is. The guy looks at me and says, “I don’t know anything about wine” I told him that was okay and asked that he just show me to the White Burgundy department. This poor guy leads me around the store, he was just reading the signs…I could have done that. Anyway the guy stops at the Burgundy sign and proudly tells me, “Here ya go” and I look down to see a small sampling of Red Burgundy, “No I was looking for White Burgundy” I told him. He looked painfully confused and said, “Wait here, let me get our sommelier”. So I waited a bit and was sort of thinking it was cool that a store like Store X, (Chevre No) would have a sommelier on staff…then the guy comes back and says, “Our sommelier is on break but she told me to tell you that they aren’t really making that anymore”.

I shook my head, got in my car and drove over the hill. I was being lazy and ended up wasting my time. I just want to thank you and your store for stocking all these antiques so I can find a decent bottle of wine when I want one. That and talk to someone that does indeed know wine and more often than not, even have a personal relationship with the winemakers.

End Story

“Um, I may just have to share that story” I told my English friend, “It’s yours” he replied. The gentleman went on to tell me that he was looking for a bottle of White Burgundy in the $50.00 price range for a gift. I took him to Philippe Colin, explained that I preferred Philippe’s wines over his brother Bruno’s. We talked about explosive fruit and gentle oak and the guy says, “See here is the problem with coming here, I have to have one for myself now”. We started walking to the register, my English friend with his two bottles of Philippe Colin Chassagne-Montrachet in his hands, me telling him how shocked I was by his story and he stops me and says, “Hey why don’t you show me a Pommard as well”.

I would like to take a moment to thank Chevre No for helping me turn a $50.00 sale into a $150.00 one and for making one of our customers realize that it is always worth it to make the drive up the hill.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

As Per Thomas's Request

Not sure how much time I will have to post between now and Christmas, things at The Wine Country are really starting to crank; eating lunch at three o clock, doing the, “Man I gotta pee” dance while helping customers pick out their gifts and party wines. Running to answer phones, track packages and restock decimated case stacks. It is really beginning to feel like Christmas now, not the holiday cheer I was aching for but the pace is most definitely, “Seasonal”. Top all of that with the fact that my sweetest thing ever, son is flying home this evening and I doubt there will be time for me to post…not that anyone is going to be reading blogs anyway.

Loyal reader, often commenter and dare I say, sweetly supportive Thomas busted my chops on the last post, told me that I was blogging wrong by not compiling a, “Best of” list, and you know what….he’s right. I am blogging wrong, but I have been doing it wrong from the get so y’all, (nod to my U of L son and my boys in the south) have grown accustomed by now I’m sure. I think I must be reading wrong too because I checked out a bunch of other blogs….well, I intended to but then I remembered, I don’t give a rat’s ass, so I stuck to the blogs that I already read. I saw that Ron Washam stepped out of the HoseMaster role and took time to thank everyone for reading, Tom Wark made a list of dudes he’d like to have as drinking buddies, (donde the chicks Tom?!) Alice had a contender for wine of the year post but for the most part no one was making lists, not about wine anyway. So being the joiner that I am, I’m not going to either…sorry Thomas. But check me out dude, not one curse word yet!!

Now before I go any further I would like to take a second to bow my goofy head to all my silent readers, I have a stat counter folks so I know you are out there reading. I am so grateful to all of you for clicking on my silly ass blog, giving a shit, (dammit…sorry Thomas) about what I have to say, and for bumping along with me in this silly life of mine. I am truly humbled by your presence; sure I wish you would chime in once in awhile but my weekly report assures me you are there and that is beyond good enough for me. Thank you so much and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Now onto my list, I approached this like I do mashed potatoes and peas…mashed them together. I took Ron’s idea, (was it not you Love that said great writers steal?) Tom’s idea and a sprinkling of Alice’s recommending wines for people idea, and came up with my own kind of list.

What I Would Like To Drink With My Regular Readers

Benito & Huber Dornfelder. I know you love wacky wines kid and this has got to be one of the craziest wines I have come across in a very long time. It is NOT just Dornfelder dude, this offering from Norman Huber is one of those wines that makes you say, “I have never seen or tasted anything like that before”…that, that makes me think of you.

Vicki & Domaine de Montille Pommard Rugiens. Girlie, you gots it real bad for aromatics…I do to, not pointing a finger…and this wine would surely inspire and continue to drive that passion for Burgundy that you already have. I could just see us now, spending hours with our nose in the glass before ever taking a sip.

Michael & Icy Cold Martinis…Many Of Them. Now Michael I was going to say, Camus Bruchon Savigny-les-Beaune, (yes, I’m cheating by listing 2) but seeing as we are like The Wonder Twins and junk…cocktails, many cocktails for us, followed by a worshiping to the patron saint of hangovers. When I think of meeting you and having a drink, I think we are going to be nothing but trouble.

Marcia & O’Shea Scarborough Cabernet Sauvignon. As elegant and charming a Cabernet as I have had in a very long time. A smart, almost regal wine with a bit of spice…..

Charlie Olken & Older California Pinot Noir. I would love to learn from you, have you walk me through the wine, explain to me what it was when it was younger…how it changed, teach me. That, that would be wicked cool. That or Pastis just so I could see you make an, “Ewe!” face.

Ron Washam & Comte Lafon Montrachet. First of all there is something ironic about The HoseMaster and Samantha Sans Dosage drinking such a wine..kinda makes me chuckle just thinking of it. Secondly I would love to be able to share something like this with you, one of the most amazing wines I have ever tasted with one of the most amazing people I know..sounds perfect. Plus it’s, (White Burgundy that is) the only thing I ever heard you gush about here…you know, other than me!

John Kelly & Comte de Vogue Chambolle-Musigny…At Ma Cuisine. Had to add the place because of our shared love of Beaune. It’s almost scary how alike we are and I know sharing this bottle of wine with you, in Beaune would either tilt the earth on its axis, (both of us in the same place at the same time) or inspire a night of uber indulgence that would undoubtedly land us in a bar killing a bottle of our beloved licorice flavored beverage.

Jess & H. Billiot Cuvee Julie. We have talked about Champagne together, had drinks and wine together but never shared a bottle of Champagne…what better way to kick off what I hope to be a long friendship and years of bubble drinking than my Champagne of The Year?

Thomas & Cavallotto Barolo. Dunno, something about you just screams Barolo to me…noble, slightly unyielding, interesting, firm but focused…yup, Barolo.

Richard & Allemand Cornas. I feel like you have a real love for Rhone varietals and would adore sharing with you one of the wines that flipped my switch for Syrah…

Nancy & Jobard Meursault. One of the first white wines I remember you flipping for was the Chappele Meursault and that was back when you were all, “I prefer red wine” and now, now you sell Riesling for a living! I think the refinement and reserved nature of Jobard’s wine would be perfect for us girlie.

Amy & All Of The Above…Anywhere & Everywhere. You and me girlie, we have shared so many amazing wine moments together and they are not even close to being over…cannot wait for the next one!

Now I have some other regular readers, The Wine Whore, k2, Anonymous, (Anonymi?) and the like but I have yet to get a real feel for what to drink with them yet, but to any and all of my beloved readers I do thank you from the very bottom of my very full heart and wish you all a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday or whatever it is we are supposed to say.
Kisses & Hugs,
Your Faithful Wine Slinger
Samantha Dugan

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In Need Of Christmas Cheer

Okay I must be a Grinch, I am so not in the holiday spirit this year. My best friend moving to another planet…aka Texas, (if I have any readers in Texas, it’s a lovely place…really) our beloved mascot Bear, (Amy and Sexy Bitch’s one-eyed Retriever) being diagnosed with Cancer and working like a seriously insane schedule, I’m just not feeling it at all this year. This blows because I love this season, love the lights, the music, the energy and yes, as a retailer…I love the flurry of cash that is being tossed at us. I wait for this all year long and here I am feeling all, “Meh” this year. Cannot figure it out. Personally I have had one hell of a year…I was offered a wicked cool job, in a town that I adore, but passed it up to stay here with the people I love, the people I need, for a job that I love and simply cannot imagine leaving by choice. I had a major breakthrough with a friendship I had been pouring over for years, I found something that I had been missing…waiting for, for like ever, my blog readership, (there is that fancy word again) grew, all my old friends and a bunch of wicked cool new ones. Then there was the “Fancy Pants” crowd that showed up; Charlie Olken, Alice Feiring, Ron Washam, that tree guy, Alder somethin’…I even think Steve Heimoff and Tom Wark showed up this year…dropping, I am so name dropping, helps to picture a deep knee plunge with a saucy snap of my fingers here.

Maybe it’s the hours I have been, and will be working…I see nothing ahead of me but scanners, tissue paper, lines, price tags and panicked faces…it’s getting to me this year people. So tonight I found myself with little to do, I am like saving my energy for work and stuff so I am off the, “let’s go do something” list, that in itself is enough to push me further down my, “woe is me” rabbit hole. It’s eight o clock, on a Saturday night, (okay this is me being a tad dramatic because I kinda hate going out on Saturday nights…all those freaking newbies and people looking to hook up and stuff, yuck…but still) and I am bloody exhausted, in a T-shirt and my ugly gray sweatshirt, (damn, that’s two ugly sweatshirts in two posts, maybe I need to stay out of Target) my most favorite baggy jeans, drinking a glass of Sancerre worshiping at the altar of sloth and lazy indulgence…um, and maybe redundancy.

I got some stuff done, I figured out that I prefer the Progressive girl to the Geiko lizard, reaffirmed that I am over the Food Network, and did my best to annoy the shit out of my facebook friends…posting shit like, “Samantha Dugan thinks lotion is a gift from the Gods…or fancy pants lab dorks, either way a gift” is sure to make some folks click whatever button or tab it takes to make me go away…hey, maybe I should have figured out how to do that, some of those “friends” just bug. None of the real people but those fan page fuckers, ugh! I did have to laugh when I was alerted that NyQuil has a fan page…NyQuil. The message said, “Become a member of the NyQuil Nation, now that sounds like a fun bunch, sign me right the hell up. See all the important junk I got handled on my, “save your energy” night.

The one upshot of the evening? This freaking gorgeous Sancerre! I’ve been doing my part to tighten the household budget…well aside from my December Champagne habit…been loading up on wines that are $12.00 and under for my nightly drinking. There are tons of fun little wines in that price point and I have been happily sucking them back every night without much of an issue. Oh sure I always want something a little finer, more complex and interesting, but these wines do what they were intended…they please my palate, go with my food and ultimately give me a nice little buzz. Things like Chidaine Touraine, Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, La Cabotte Cotes du Rhone, Piron Beaujolais Villages, these wines thrill for their tiny little price tags and like I said, I have been enjoying more than my fair share for months now, but sometimes…sometimes you just need more, ache for more than comfortable and gulpable. Tonight, tonight was one of those nights.

2007 Domaine des Vieux Prunieres Sancerre, ($21.99) So as you see not exactly breaking the bank at $22.00 but more than I have been spending on a, “loafing on the couch night” kind of wine. The second I poured the wine I could see the difference, even the way it landed in the glass, (a little slower to splash up the sides, settling on itself with a calm dignity) let me know that this wine bore a finer bloodline, pedigree. I could smell the minerality long before I buried my nose in the glass; it was so intense I could smell it just by spinning the glass on my kitchen counter. On the palate it was cold, wet stones, flint, pink grapefruit and lemon zest, all with a full mouth feel…the wine spread wide across my tongue but the brilliant acidity seemed to almost constrict or pull the coating of wine right off my palate….which of course made me want, made me ready for, more. So guess what this slothy girl did? In the words of the noble Sir Charles Olken, "you can bet that sweet ass of yours" I did...I went back for more.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Powerful Reminder

“Um, are you wearing pajamas?” this was the question I was asked as I stepped out of my little hotel room in Beaune one chilly, very gray March morning in 2003. I was on my first trip to France and had no idea what I was even doing there, had no idea how I had even gotten there. One minute I am in the shop picking up the phone to hear, “So I hear you’re going to France with me this year” and the next I am in Beaune…me, the girl that once lived on pancakes and Kayro syrup, lived in government aided housing, and now here I was, tasting, swirling and spitting in some of the most prestigious estates in Burgundy, what the hell?!

The first few days were fun, blurry but fun, I had never before experienced anything even remotely like that before, the language, the architecture, (man do I love the old buildings and structures in France) the food, travelling with complete strangers for 25 straight days……strangers that knew what they were doing, talking about and tasting. Never before felt so out of place, how would I have…I had never before been so out of place. But here I was, little puffs of white air escaping my lips as I stood there, in my, “pajamas” overstuffed luggage resting behind me, toes uncomfortably wiggling in my very white tennis shoes, as I looked at my then hero, (way to knock yourself right off that pedestal Michael) as he went all Heidi Klum on me.

I lumbered my chunky, powder blue sweatshirt covered self into the travel van in a full on snit, “who the hell does he think he is?” face shooting dirty looks into the rearview at my fearless leader, (like he even noticed) feeling indignant and down-right pissy. I didn’t even want to come on this trip and now I was being mocked, I felt my face getting warmer and warmer with each kilometer on our way to our next destination…Domaine Goisot in Saint-Bris in the Northern part of Burgundy that neighbors Chablis.

I felt myself softening a bit as we entered the breathtaking cellar at Goisot, stony stairs and walls, little lights leading our way, a place that spoke its history without having to say a word. I was spellbound, felt smaller than I ever had and being there, freezing, (even though I was clad in my biggest…apparently ugliest…sweatshirt) all pissy about my wardrobe malfunction, made me see how very small my world was before I ever stepped foot in that cellar, before I came to France and before I opened my heart, palate and voice to a place that would forever change me.

I survived the trip and took away not only an understanding of French culture, (um, white sneaks..bad, puffy hoodie not so good when doing the whole fine dining thing) but a very real, very true, dear friend, that would continue to nurture me, teach me, break my balls when I needed him to, and whose, “are you wearing pajamas?” question was the first to take a swipe at that shell, that shell that I had been protecting myself with for years. It was his slightly smug, very informed, concerned, but understanding and gentle hammer that broke this Nut wide open….so blame him.

So the reason for this walk down memory lane is The Nutcracker sent me a gift, a gift I know most wine geeks would be willing to endure a high colonic…with Boones Farm for. A mixed case of wine; older vintages, things I had never seen…just a wild array of wines that induced that freaking squeal, that girly…high pitched, piglet sound when I opened the box, (if you tell anyone I will be forced to pinch you real hard). I brought the box home yesterday, acted as if I were going to put all the wines in the little wine fridge that buzzes away in my living room. Instead I fondled the bottles and posted shit on facebook…bragging about all the fancy crap I got, feeling spoiled, (far cry from the pajama day) adored and very lucky. Lucky to have such a dear friend and even luckier that I was now in a position to truly understand and appreciate what I was given.

Tonight I came home and on my living room table was…the box. The box that had been selected for me, a case of wines that most people only dream of, the box of wicked cool wines that I should….should be sharing with others. Yeah, I grabbed the most obscure thing and tossed it in the fridge. I sucked back a glass or two of some Sauvignon Blanc, didn’t even really taste it, I was just buying my time…waiting to get my geek on, dying to taste the wine I had chosen from my box of chosen wines.

1997 Domaine Goisot Corps de Garde Gourmand, (Um…seriously, not available) When I pulled the cork I was a bit startled by the thick, grey, spongy layer of mildew that was just beneath the foil, even more nervous when I rested my waiting nostrils on the opening of the bottle…funky, smelled kinda funky. With trepidation I brought the glass to my nose…Holy Mother of Jarring Aromatics! Meursault, this Sauvignon Blanc smells like Meursault. Deeply nutty, powdery and full of caramel. On the palate the wine is thick, palate coating…the weight is astounding, simply astounding, this is Sauvignon Blanc? There is that slightly salty thing that drives me wild, that freshly sweating skin thing, and each rich layer brings something sexier, more intriguing and each sip reminding me that no one, not people and surely no wine, should be judged solely by what we think we know about them. Each sipp reminded me of how many people dismiss this little grape as something inferior….1997 Sauvignon Blanc people and it was un-freaking believable.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Goes Best With Humble Pie?

It should be no surprise to my regular readers that I am a bit of a Francophile, as a matter of fact I am sure there are plenty of people that believe that I think French wines are superior to all others, and in a way that’s true….for me, for my palate, for the way I drink, French wines are better but as a whole, well I am not willing nor would I be so narrow as to suggest that they are the best, like ever. I’m fully aware that that savory, mineral, earthy, tangy thing that makes my eyes roll back in my head makes other people pucker, scrunch their nose and utter those obnoxious phrases like, “that’s thin” or “Not much going on there”. This kind of comment is why I staunchly refuse to take part in those, “French Pinot Noir versus Domestic Pinot Noir” events, in that kind of setting, a couple little sips then move on….well, my beloved French wines just get lost. Guess I shouldn’t be shocked, those wines were never meant to be show stoppers, never meant to dazzle with one sip. They are wines that were meant to be enjoyed over the course of a meal, throughout the evening or better yet, 10 years down the road. People like me, people that are into drier, leaner wines are drawn to the rustic, less primary wines from France. Are they better wines? No, but they are better suited to a palate like mine.

Now when faced with one of those face pucker people I try and explain the wines, tell them how their subtle nature is better for food, how they were not meant to be rich and fruity and urge them to spend more than a minute with them….notice the way the wine leaves the palate refreshed, seeking another sip. This tactic usually works, not always, but most of the time and while I am not trying to or succeeding in making them, “converts” I think it helps broaden their love and appreciation of wine. They can love their rich domestic wines and the more reserved French wines, I love this part of my job….so yeah, what about me?

When I find myself tasting through a bunch of New World wines I find that I am scrunching my nose, making the pucker face and tossing about my own obnoxious comments like, “Fuck that’s sweet” or, “Wow, that’s too aggressive” and most of the time relegating those wines to the, “Not for me pile”. Now I can still sell them, I know tons of people that love that forward style of wine…kinda easy to sell really, but for me to take home, drink or even put down for a year or two, yeah that never ever happens.

So I have a very dear friend and loyal reader that has taken on the task of introducing me to some California wines that he thinks might suit my palate…I was beyond skeptical at first, thought it was unbelievably sweet that he was sending me wines, made me feel extremely special but there was something in the pit of my tummy that made me wonder why he was bothering? I have been tasting California wines for 13 years, never been my thing really. Oh I think I had a mild flirtation with Zinfandel back before they were Port, back when DeLoach O.F.S Zinfandels were allocated…and good, but once the super sweet, super extracted, boozy style became fashionable I got out of the Zinfandel drinking business. As someone that has a zero tolerance for most anything sweet, (not kidding, don’t like chocolate, candy, ice cream…none of it, I even put salt on fruit to make it palatable) New World wines, (yes, generalizing here) just hit that sweet sensor on my palate and therefore not something that I have ever been drawn to.

So the first wine he sent, a Rhys Pinot Noir held its own side by side with one of my favorite Red Burgundies, (okay in fairness to the Burgundy it was from a difficult vintage) in fact I was actually compelled to slam the cork in the bottle of Rhys and take the leftovers to work the next day to share with the staff….stunning Pinot Noir, simply delicious but, okay I admit it, I thought it was a fluke. Sure there are some great wines being produced in California and I was bound to taste a couple that suited me, lucky…he got lucky, (okay really funny when I tell you he was a sommelier for like….ever, it was once his job to do this and here I was like, “Yeah okay, we’ll see” such a know-it-all).

The second wine was a bit tougher, he had even mentioned that he was not holding out hope that I would like it….Zinfandel, my most hated wine ever. Now I took the bottle to a dinner with a bunch of wine geeks, we popped the cork, poured the wine in my glass and…Zinfandel, the best Zinfandel I’ve had in like a jillion years but….sigh, just aint my thing. I am leaving out what wine it was because frankly, I don’t want you all making fun of me for not loving it or jumping to its defense. It was a great wine, balanced, lovely texture, extremely well made, but just was not for me.

Last night I popped another of my gift wines. I was celebrating the eve of my last day off before Christmas Day, I had glass of Champagne while making dinner and thought some Pinot Noir would be great with the thick, perfectly marbled steaks we were having. Popped my head in my little wine fridge and pulled out the bottle to warm up a little before dinner….okay lying, I popped the cork right away but the wine was WAY too cold, so I then left it to come up a bit more to room temperature.

I took a sip right before putting dinner on the table and have to admit, little sweet at first…not a sweet wine mind you, just a little sweet for me, so I nibbled the food, went back to the wine and with each sip I was finding something beyond the primary, something more sultry, something more like the Pinot Noir that makes my little hairs stand up…something sensual. The wine was a 2002 Dehlinger Octagon Russian River Pinot Noir and that bottle of wine seduced the hell out of me last night. I took my time; spent the evening letting it reveal itself to me, expose its layers, show me how freaking complex it was and that silky, graceful texture…damn. Took everything I had to leave some wine in the bottle but I was dying to see how an older domestic Pinot Noir would hold up overnight….fuck, fuck, what a revelation.

I was letting this sultry, way beyond fruit, wine swish across my palate, gently laying its soft body in my mouth and these exact words came to my mind, “You have to take your time with these wines. You can’t just taste them and expect them to wow you. They need to be tasted over the course of a meal, given time to show you all that they can do…” my argument for French wines was calling me and saying, “Hello Pot, this is The Kettle and you're black”.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Um, Stop It

So I was just in the middle of writing a post about a wine critic that came off like a self inflated, self important jackass and I did something I almost never do, I went back and reread my post…um, remind me never to do that again. I tend to be one of those, pound it out, tell your story, copy, paste, steal some pictures off the Internets, and post kinda gals. I don’t like reread the stuff I write, hell my typos and missing words should attest to that. Not sure what prompted me to look, must have been some form of self preservation…like that time I thought it would be sexy to take nude photos in the tub…dude, (head shaking) I’m just sayin’…dude. Anyway, I went back and read, started out good I think but as I continued reading I found myself saying, “What a self important, self inflated jackass”. Yeah so nothing all that new but I wasn’t feeling it tonight. Lost myself in mindless television, (God love it) and a whole new form of inspiration hit me…gotta just say

Stop It

This is Not cute, nor is it even funny at this point. It's gross, unsettling and might be the reason people think we’re jackholes

Anything that they call, "Lip Venom" or makes your lips swell up when you put it on, well this just sounds like a bad plan.

They are gone people, just like they were last year and the year before that.

Okay now this junk makes you grow eyelashes. Grow lashes and grow them darker...where the fuck have I been, this is a problem?! Man I gotta work on my girlie but damn, really? Now this stuff can cause a darkening of the lash line, (which can be fixed) and a browning of the colored part of the eye, (that cannot). Now let me get this straight...we are now willing to discolor our eyeballs and junk and for what? Is there some man or woman going, "Oh yeah, she's freaking smokin' but....those lashes. I'm out"????

Stop it..not him but YOU! If you are at all shocked that a wealthy man, and an athlete no less, is stepping out, well than you might consider growing up. Burns my ass and makes me wonder, "Are you mad that he did it or mad that You don't?" Plus he is smokin' hot, (just look at those lashes) and I don't know who wouldn't.

Ladies this is a sweet gesture, I like the idea I really do but....and I mean this in the nicest possible, (remember the bathtub photos) way, they don't go to those clubs because those girls really know how to work the pole. Not sure what they told you but, the real draw is not to see someone on a pole, it's to see someone ELSE on a nekkid and junk. If the reason you want to go to these pole dancing classes is to, "put a little spice" back into the ol' love life, than that's great, very cool and I tip my tie to your courage...but if the reason has anything to do with competition, let me just plant this little seed----imagine your sweet husband, all snuggled in the bed, little belly flap resting sweetly on the mattress, cute little hairs sprouting from his many moles. You love him, he is adorable, you have been through everything together...the house payments, the Holiday parties, (he loves those) the family dinners, the shopping, bill paying. That's love, that's commitment, so sweet and honest.

Now picture Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Denzel Washington, (I'll just use...oh, I don't know, Dave Matthews. C'mon Google alert) sitting on a bed, a bed with white sheets, in a pair of faded Levi's 501's, raising is strong powerful right hand, reaching over his left shoulder and pulling the white T-Shirt over his head....handing you a glass of Champagne and saying, "How's my gorgeous girl?".... as far as "fantasy" goes, see what I'm saying? In the ever brillant words of some dude, (Dave Matthews..Google Alert) "I'm not all bad but I'm a faithful sinner, I might get lost but I'll be home for dinner"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Damn....Those Are Good

Now I don’t normally take tasting appointments this late in the season, once the final newsletter is put to bed we tell our suppliers to take a hike….not really, but we are not looking for new wines and the tasting area is full of gift baskets. That and hopefully we will be too busy to be sitting around tasting wine anyway, so we just stop taking appointments. Our suppliers understand and hear the same thing from everyone, “Please go away, I’ll call you if I need something” most of those that have been in the business for some time don’t even bother asking, they know the answer is going to be, “no”.

So when I heard one of my favorite reps, Chuck Morris of Beaune Imports say, “Hey do you want to taste…” I instantly flashed the, “What the?!” face, that was until he said, “the RH Coutier Rose and 2002 Brut?” well lookie there something just opened up, yeah I know…whore, total whore. We were in fact busy, more stocking than dealing with customers so I snuck off to the kitchen with Chuck to taste the new arrivals.

I had, just a couple of days before, tasted the regular…sounds so stupid to call it regular, let me start again. I had recently poured the NV R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($39.99) at our end of the year Champagne event, and had been somewhat floored by how well this, “little” (as far as price, not texture or flavor) held its own with the other, more expensive wines that night. I first tasted the wines from this estate like three years ago, the importer had taken us to dinner at A.O.C and asked us to taste this Champagne from Ambonnay that he was considering importing. After pulling my jaw up off the floor, (humbled by the trust of my palate) I tasted through the wines…lovely, powerful and rich but lovely….thought about the other Champagne in his book, the more delicate, Chardonnay based wines from Agrapart, thought this wine would offer something entirely different and finally asked the price, “What the hell are you waiting for?! Are you freaking nuts? These wines are wicked delicious and seriously…at those prices? Dude..” I am sure he was so glad he asked me, he was asking my opinion, taking me to dinner, (So does that count as disclosure?) and I’m breaking his balls. He ended up laughing at my reaction, (guess he knows me pretty well) saying, “Okay, okay…this is why I asked you” and after some serious negotiations the wines arrived last year.

Chuck was waiting for me when I raced back to the kitchen, he had two bottles open and had already started tasting, “Damn dude, way to wait for me” I said as I reached for a glass. “Just making sure I had them in the right order” Chuck responded while sipping from his nearly empty glass. I started with the Rose, found it somewhat boring to tell the truth, I kept spinning the wine in my glass, sticking my nose as far in as I could…meh. I was fearful as I put down my glass of Rose and poured myself a glass of the vintage, I nervously brought the glass to my nose the whole time thinking, “Shit, why the hell did he ask me? What have I done? This poor bastard is going to be stuck with boring ass wines and it is going to be my fault” with trepidation I lowered my nose and I swear the wine leapt from the glass, grabbed my face and laid a big passionate kiss on me. My fears assuaged, I tasted the wine and fell in love all over again, so I reached for the Rose again, slowly brought the glass to my nose and while it didn’t quite leap from the glass, it was shaking its stuff for me, revealing ripe succulent fruit…awe, it was just shy!

2002 R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($59.99) now the first thing that came out of my mouth when I tasted this wine that afternoon was a rather snooty, somewhat geeky, total dork word and seeing as I try and spare people from that kind of verbage I will just say, “this wine is very wine-like”. Deep core of red fruit, baked rich flavors, little bits of that kind of white flower thing you get in great white Burgundy, and an almost oily texture in the mouth that almost makes you forget you’re drinking Champagne…you know, except for that sassy stream of tiny bubbles that tickle the tip of your tongue. The wine seems to grow in your mouth and the finish is insanely long.

N.V. R.H. Coutier Grand Cru Brut Rose, ($57.99) not a starter wine as I found out, this wine needs to open a bit and would serve you well as bottle number two. The nose is rather delicate, rose petals, spice and wild berries with just a bit of sweet butter on brioche, but the palate…damn, the palate. All ripe black cherries, mouth filling, broad shouldered but elegant but all cherries and the finish…sweet black cherries and sweet cream. Supple, graceful for its size and so freaking generous without clunking up your palate with yeast or toast…pure red fruit is what you’re left with and what keeps you reaching for your glass.

All three wines from Coutier will have a spot on our shelves for as long as they are available, which sadly is not that long as they make very little of it and the importer only brought in a small amount for this inaugural launch, (of the Rose and vintage) and I know I will be snagging a few for myself, finding wines with this much power and grace at $60.00 a bottle is very rare and I will unashamedly be “gettin’ mine”.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Does This Blogroll Make Me Look Phat?

When I first started blogging 20 years ago, (okay it’s been like a year and a half but it feels like a lot longer) I longed to be blogrolled more than anything, I mean how else was I going to be all famous and junk? I would spend hours pouring over other wine blogs, longingly looking at the list of recommend sites and wonder what it was going to take to see Samantha Sans Dosage there. I would read, or try to read, (I mean C’mon some of that crap…ugh) upwards of 20 blogs a day, looking for any tiny window for me to stick my head through, make my voice heard and through my, “compelling” comments, inspire the blog host and their readers to read my stoopid blog…brilliant, this was a brilliant, never before thought of plan.

I kept up that pace for about 3 months before I grew weary of reading the same story spit out in a different voice, reviews of Crane Lake Shiraz and basic wine information, that while helpful for some was stuff that I learned 10 years ago….not to mention the fact that the more I read, the more I wrote, I could see the bridge to the ever illusive blogroll getting longer and further away, my blog looking less like a wine blog each step of the way.

I surrendered my dream of being a famous wine blogger, (is there even such a thing?) and just kept writing, both for the few readers I did have and for me, and found that I was more at ease, happier and quite content…free from the constraints of bottling my voice, behavior and feelings in order to keep, “on point”, be a wine blogger. Yammering, I was just yammering, sometimes about wine, a lot of the time about over indulgence, once in awhile about me, my heart, my love and pain, for whatever reason people kept reading, my readership, (damn, don’t that sound fancy) grew and that was when I got the email from Tom Wark. “I love Sans Dosage, would you be willing to do a Bloggerview for me?”…well that made me swell with pride and that was when my, “readership” sailed into the double digits, who the hell needs to be blogrolled, I had arrived!

Been pretty much the same since then, I still read some wine blogs, the ones listed on my very own blogroll, and I truly enjoy reading them, do it daily and find myself compelled to comment from time to time but not for the reason that I used to, not to be noticed, clicked on and discovered…it’s more because I have something to say about the topic or I’m just letting the blogger know that I am in fact reading and appreciate the time they take to write…hopefully making the task less thankless for them just as my regular readers do for me.

A couple of days ago a friend and fellow blogger said, “you’ve got to be on Vinography’s blogroll, that guy has every wine blog there is listed” not in a “you HAVE to be” kind of way, more in a, “that dude has a giant roll” kind of way. I finally got around to checking it out and as I suspected my blog was not listed, makes sense as my blog is not really a traditional wine blog, I was not wounded, didn’t faze me in the least but the thing that struck me? Took me like 30 minutes to even look….why would anyone bother? I mentioned that I was not listed to another blogging friend and he said, “Send him an email, he will link you, he’s a cool guy” but the thing is, why would I want to be a needle in a haystack?

I spent this morning going over some other wine blogs, the big ones, the ones that get the most hits and checked out their rather hefty blogrolls as well, found myself glossing over, just scrolling and not even really looking at the names of my fellow bloggers, this was what I wanted, to be a part of, some long list that people just gloss over? What the hell was I thinking?! Well I can say with all honesty, without one shred of snark, without a doubt that I am thrilled that my silly little blog only shows up on a few other blogs, blogs with manageable blogrolls, (well Tom’s is a tad um…well, long) makes me feel truly selected and very special. I’m perfectly content being an un-famous, un-wine, blogger.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You Haunt Me

I walked out the back door of The Wine Country this evening and the second I felt the skin on my bare forearms constrict I knew you would be with me all night; I would not be able to stop thinking about you….wanting you. I’m tortured by thoughts of you, those thoughts that send shivers down my spine, make me ache, make me remember, they are always with me but on a night like tonight, a cold, quiet Friday night…I am consumed by my thoughts of you.

I found myself flipping the station on the radio in the car on my way home, pause for a second or two, hover on a song looking for something, anything that might bring up some other memory, some other feeling, and yearning for some flicker, some tiny spark….something to distract me. I found myself searching for words, phrases, choruses, harmonies…something mindless, less intense, less you, but it only takes one, “I will”, “I want” one, “We” and I am right back in your grasp, bound to you…bound by my need, my ache, my desire for you.

My walk from my car to my apartment feels so long on nights like these, like it is taking me twice as many steps, my bags are bogging me down, my frame too weak to carry my deficient soul…like my desire is weighing on me, my overwhelming want feels tied to each leg like a forty pound brick…each step, agonizing…jarring, a reminder that when I reach my stoop, unlock my door, I won’t find you there. Hopeless, feels so fucking hopeless…my whole body telling me what I need, what will fulfill me, soothe the pulling knots in my tummy, it’s there, just not with me, not tonight, not yet.

I open the door to find my home just as I left it, my piles of magazines left unread, my blanket, the one that warms my feet, snuggles my thighs, is still sitting tossed on the end of the couch where I left it, my unopened mail still waiting for my attention, my wine glass from the night before still sitting on the table. The smells that greet me are the ones I find every night, the ones that remind me that I am home, that old library smell…my home, my safe place, but tonight, tonight I am not safe, not at all comforted by these aromas, they only remind me of what I don’t have, what’s missing…you.

Something about my haze made dealing with the evenings essential needs easy to coast through, get food, pick up the clutter, chat with the neighbors, all things I was able to do but I have no real recollection of really being a part of. I was there, my body and voice were there but me, the real me, the one that has felt you course through her body, well I was off somewhere remembering you, your scent, your touch, the way you feel when you slip beneath my skin…I was with you.

I felt my blinks lasting longer, like I could hold you closer, pull you closer if I could just shut out everything else…no lights, no television, no yet unread magazines, like each second in the darkness of my own body was one more second that was just ours, me with you in our space…I swear I could feel you slipping inside me, I could smell you, taste you…feel you. I wanted, needed, still want and need more….I would wait for no one the way I have and do wait for you. Only you can move me this way, just you…I have others that can fill me, touch me and make me feel amazing, but there is just something about you, haunting…you haunt me.

Your unique brand of seduction, the way you slither around me, the way I can smell you, feel you, days after we have spent a night together, the way I can taste you when I hear your name, only you can do this to me. I feel your fingers tugging at me, pulling me, making me move like some drunk with passion puppet that you can make dance, skip, crumble…all at your hand, only your hand, and when you have finished with me I will pull myself up by my own strings and…be back for more.

Burgundy, why don’t I have more aged red Burgundy at home?! I want, need, ache for more aged Pommard, Volany and Savigny-les-Beaune…damn, I want you.

Just Sayin

So I spent a good chunk of the day feeling like poo, there was a person out there, (and I mean out there…who the hell knows where these people are, what brings them in, why they are really reading and commenting) that found my last post snobbish, I just freaking hate that. I don’t hate that they said what they felt, hell that’s why I left it up and responded, but I hate that someone found something I said rude or in some way snobbish, that is so not what I’m about. I was planning on just letting it go, throw up some post to try and bury that last one but…well, that aint me either.

Behavior seems to be the topic of the week, Tiger Woods, White House party crashers…boorish wine store customers, and while I could give a crap about the first two it is my job to care about the last. When anyone disrupts a class, makes the rest of the crowd uncomfortable in anyway, it is my job to nip it in the bud. This person was not singled out for challenging me, this person was singled out for causing multiple disruptions throughout the night….if a man had been so aggressive sexually, made so many crass and off topic comments, in the way they were delivered, (really loud) in this type of setting I think most people would have asked that I make him leave. But this mouthy monster got a bit of a pass because of her gender and people just kept looking at me with those, “Oh My Gawd” eyes all night, it was for those people, the people that dropped sixty-five bones to attend a Champagne tasting and had to endure the, “Shock Jock” all evening…it was for them that I shone my beaming blog light on the beast. The thing I found really telling was the uses of the word, “snob”….if all this had taken place in an English or math class would I still look like a snob?! Telling, really telling. Bring wine into the equation and all of a sudden snobbery is sited, never once knocked her palate or taste in wine…just her behavior.

I waffled back and forth about removing the post and while it does pain me a bit to know someone now thinks I’m a snob….I’ll live with it. This woman clearly wanted attention and I gave her some, her behavior warranted my scorn and if I lose a reader for expressing my distain for people that ruin the night for everyone else…well then, so be it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Less Than Grande Dame

You know, when you work retail for as long as I have, (13 years) you see a rather staggering array of human behavior on a daily basis. I mean I know I have it much better than most, it’s not like I work at the DMV or Walmart, (people seriously, you have to check out magic, that site is just magic) or anything, most of the people that enter the doors of The Wine Country are perfectly civilized, kind, fun loving and they obviously like to get their drink on. Sure we have some kooky regulars, people that hork cheese while yammering about cat piss, animal dung, (what up with the wine and animal, “functions” comparisons? Might want to get out of the house more kids…just sayin) test our patience and can on occasion get on our nerves as I am sure we get on theirs…part of that whole, “I know you too well and you’re buggin the shit outta me” thing. But for the most part, we gots it pretty good at The Wine Country, I adore our customers, they are more than accepting of me and my, um…voice, they find my bites charming and know that all we are trying to do is share wine and run a business…like I said, I adore them. That being said, there are some real challenging individuals that come through from time to time…Friday night got me thinking….I might need to have a, “Character of the Week” feature here at Sans Dosage.

I find myself in awe at least twice a week, and while I have no desire to make anyone feel bad, (so I will not be including names or too much of a physical description) this stuff is too good to not share. Time to quit with the, “Oh My God” stares back and forth with the staff, time to use this space, my living journal, (thank you customer in the parking lot for telling me to stop calling it a blog and keep writing) to share some of this crap…it’s good for me, good for us, sharing is cathartic right? So yeah, Friday night….

Right about 7:00 on the nights of my events I find myself in a full on tizzy, I’m a wreck…my nerves are shot, my palms sweaty and I suffer a pretty severe case of the erps as it were, seriously feel like my legs are gonna give and I might wretch. People tell me this will subside, I’m still waiting…think 7 years is too long to wait? I suck at public speaking, I feel completely naked and man do I hate being naked in front of 30 people. I am confident in my knowledge of the wines, just wigged out that I may flub, or choke as I did this last tasting….got everyone’s eyes on me and my throat seizes up and I start hacking…dude. Anyway, I am in full freak out mode this last Friday and she walks in.

Hard to miss really, very “clad” in purple, very loud and she had this, Rosanne Barr, Momma Cass kind of look and feel. I heard her long before I saw her and found myself peering around the corner of the kitchen, (where yes, I was hiding) to see what all the hub-bub was about. As my eyes met the source of the noise I found myself making one of those Little Rascals faces, that sharp head jerk, big eyed, “what the hell?” look. She had one of those voices that carry, I could hear her from like yesterday, and the look…well, (picture the Little Rascals look here).

The dark purple shadow and the drag queen fake eyelashes were hard to miss, she stood out, she was looking to so I guess she got what she was going for, I noticed, that’s for damn sure. I was just starting my class when she says to her neighbor, (in a tone that would make an auctioneer envious) “I learned that in my pole dancing class. I’m a fun girl”….now I cannot, do not know what inspired the comment, but picturing this woman, this Violet Beauregarde looking woman, on a pole…well, that erp thing came rushing back tenfold. There were overtly sexual comments being tossed out left and right and try as I might I could not escape that little, “ewe” shudder that came with picturing this beastly woman, pole dancing…there had to some form of animal print underpants…had to be, but her love of “Champagne” well that made her all classy and junk.

I fought through all the noise that came from her end of the table, kept talking, trying as best as I could to ignore the ick but, well she decided to come after me, challenge me for that, “most listened to” spot, now I might be shy and what not but I am not going to let the lowest common, whatever you are, control the show. “Now this wine is a bit more austere” I said while introducing a flight, “Well I am going to stop you there and you are going to have to explain what you mean by that” the purple people eater barked at me…there were cheesy chunks flying I can assure you. “I mean, I know what the word means, but I think that sounds scary, so I am not going to let you get way with saying something like that without an explanation”. I stood there, watching her flap those ridiculous lashes, trying her best to work her sass. I let the room go silent for a moment, stared back at this ghastly person and said, “It means subtle”.

Who would have thunk a word as simple as, “subtle” would soothe the wild beast but I think paired with my special, “are you seriously trying to screw with me?” face it did the job. Heard almost nothing from her for the rest of the night….well unless you count her challenging people that found similar flavors as I did, “You’re only saying that because SHE did” and the ever charming offer she gave one of my regulars at the register, “I’d put out for a bottle of that!” while she was buying her bottle of Prosecco and 3 bars of chocolate, gross.

I get the big girl sassy thing, it’s kinda my deal and all…but there is a right way and a wrong way, she was so purplely doin it wrong it was simply repugnant. When she slapped her name tag down on the counter and told me, “I want to be on a funner table next time” I nearly shot Champagne out my nose…funner? Really? Might I introduce you to your people, the people of Walmart dot com?!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Might Need A New Program

So in a effort to ensure that we would have a sold out class the day after Thanksgiving Randy booked one of my Champagne events, these classes are always the first to fill up, sell out and have been the most successful in terms of sales, so I too thought it was a good idea….but we are starting to have, well and issue. So we can seat, (comfortably) around 30-35 people for one of our classes, many more than that and it can get pretty cramped not to mention it is harder to control the crowd, so I have always taken 30 for the Champagne events….a few glasses of bubbles and the crowd gets a little um, boisterous, so 30 seemed to be the magic number for me.. The class this last Friday sold out long ago, that’s all good right…yeah except for one thing.

The format of my bubble events is super relaxed, I don’t pound a bunch of, “how Champagne is made” or history of the estates down people’s throats, I let the wines do most of the talking and I interject with bits of information and walk around the tables making myself available for any and all questions. I talk briefly about the wines before each flight but for the most part the crowd kind of does their own thing. This format has been working for me for years, people like the chill feel of it and end up chatting with their neighbors, making new friends and having a great time…I love that, have always loved that but, as I checked the enrollment sheet for the class this Friday I saw what I have been noticing for the past few…large parties, really large parties and a long ass waiting list with more large parties.

Now normally this would not be a problem, full seats are full seats, but what has begun happing is the same groups are showing up, bringing their friends, (and a picnic this last time) and while one member of the group, (usually the one that makes the reservation) may buy a bottle or two, the rest of the group is not…problem. I have people on a waiting list that want to attend but my seats are full with people having a private party, I appreciate that they like my events and all but the goal is to move some wine, turn people onto things they have never tasted and like sell some too. Well these groups are starting to be a problem, even filling a cancellation is a problem, 4 people cancel and I look to the waiting list and it’s all groups of 5 or more…argh!

The class this Friday was full of the regular suspects, (two large parties in particular) and we had 2 no shows, (just so happens they are my biggest Champagne buyers as well) so the class really was not all that successful, sure we filled seats, sure my core group of ardent supporters bought some Champagne, we sold over three thousand dollars worth of wine, but wrestling with the noise from the private parties and having that loud group not buy any wine, well it told me that I might need a change in my program.

The first suggestion was not taking reservations for groups larger than 4, well that won’t work because they will all just make separate reservations…oh and what a nightmare when they all arrive and tell us that they want to sit together, nope that’s out. The second was to say the class was sold out when these parties call, well I am not about to do that, I’m not lying. So aside from pulling these people aside and telling them, “I know you like these classes, I’m flattered, I really am but if you wish for them to continue we need the seats filled with people that may actually buy wine”…thinking that might just go over like a fart in church. No what I think I am going to do for the time being is take 45 reservations for all the Champagne classes, sounds rather daunting to me personally, (all those eyes on me at one time…makes me feel kinda barfy just thinking about it) but I’m at a bit of a loss, I need more bubble lovers to support and grow my department, the little private parties just aint gonna make that happen.

All that being said, the class was still fun, (another problem with the party goers, they tend to want to stay. They just sit there while we are cleaning up around them. No offence folks but we are not at a party, we’re working and we would like our evening to end before like 11:00 PM and stuff) those ardent supporters, well they stayed to help me clean and empty the bits of leftover Champagne before convincing me to go to a bar and have a few drinks…weak, Champagne makes me weak. The best part of the night was as it should have been, the wines, the wines were fucking, (sorry Thomas) fantastic!

Featured Wines

NV Jose Dhondt, ($59.99) I was the odd man out on this wine, I loved it…always love it but thought the wine that I poured next to it was better, (Pierre Peters) but it was still lovely. Deeply roasted, tons of apple and a delicate mousse.

NV Pierre Peters, ($52.99) this wine can give me goosebumps. So savory and almost salty, sea-kissed, with little bits of citrus and toast. This wine begs for oysters and after a bottle of it with oysters…well begging is likely.

NV Bruno Gobillard, ($76.99) a wine that spun my head at a Champagne trade event and one that I was dying to wrap my palate around again. Subtle, very fine bead, delicate graham cracker, apple skin and cream…rich and supple but refined, think muscular legs beneath lace.

1999 Guy de Chassey, ($79.99) I had recently sent this bottle to someone whose palate I am dying to get to know, wanted their take on it, to see if it flipped their switch like it did mine, don’t think it did but putting the glass to my nose that night…flipped me again. I taste so much Champagne that when I taste one that is so different it just grabs me, this wine…well it shook me with both hands, and I dug it. Sexy as hell, full of fragrant white flowers, pears, green herbs and spice. The palate is long, really long and the wine just kept getting better and more expressive as it warmed I the glass. I went back at the end of the night to re-taste from the open, un-refrigerated bottle…damn, giving me little shivers just thinking about it.

NV RH Coutier Brut, ($39.99) I will confess a soft spot for this wine. The importer brought a bottle to dinner one night and asked me if he should consider bringing it in, um…flattering much?! Well I gave him a giant, “hells yeah” and now it’s here. I love the richness, texture and weight of this wine, and at this price…stoopid, it’s a stoopid value. Baked fruit, warm bread and butter with a long Pinot rich finish.

NV Camille Saves Carte Blanche, ($56.99) another Pinot rich bubbly, full of red fruit, toast and cream. Lovely weight and a long toasty finish. Powerful enough to hold up to food but pretty sublime all on its own.

NV Vve Fourny Brut Rose, ($45.99) you know, there is always one wine that gets trounced, this was it. I think after all those Pinot based, powerful wines this pretty “little” wine just got clobbered. Gentle wild strawberry on the nose with bits of pepper and a more cooked berry thing on the palate, very pretty, very clean and a perfect little starter wine.

NV H. Billiot Brut, ($56.99) um, love it. Always love it. Big cooked apple flavors, tons of toasted bread and a mouth feel that is rich and assertive. Slutty, I always call the wines from Billiot slutty and by that I mean there are no hidden corners, the wine is all out there in its curvy, sexy nakedness…rawr.

NV Rene Geoffroy Brut Rose, ($63.99) oaky, I’m fessing up here, I didn’t like this wine at all that night. I found it stinky, like someone just lit a match and the palate was completely shut down. Might just be a phase, I’ve had and adored this wine in the past but that night…

NV Camille Saves Brut Rose, ($72.99) sexy, this wine is ridiculously sexy. Palate staining texture, cooked black cherries and cream…drinks more like a Burgundy than Champagne but it has all those sassy little bubbles….damn.

We also poured the H. Billiot Cuvee Julie but seeing as I just wrote that up in my last post I will spare you the rerun….it still makes me want to do naughty things, still a remarkable wine, still delicious.

Thanks to all that attended, I think at least one of you read this silly blog. Thanks for the after tasting drinks, um…kisses and bites on my neck, you people are totally crazy and I adore you for it. Be prepared for a much different looking, (in terms of size) but still great tasting, Champagne event in the New Year.