Saturday, March 12, 2011

You've Piqued My Interest But...

So I spent Thursday afternoon doing something that I’ve been trying to be better at but have never really warmed to, I spent the afternoon at a trade tasting. Now I know all the people not in the business, (there has to be like 3 people that read this blog that is not now, nor trying to be, in the business. That’s ITB for you. Fuck what a douchebag abbreviation. Really?! In the business needs to be shortened? I blame Twitter) think I’m insane for not wanting to spend my whole day lodged in thick traffic, being bumped and knocked into, huffing in the rank ass perfume of the “hostess” that the sommelier next to me brought… know, to educate her palate, cramming oily olives, always dressed with the ever wine friendly citrus rind, into my pie hole while trying to nudge my way to the front of the table where I will fumble with my notepad, tasting sheet and wine glass while dodging the lama like spit so I can get a teensy taste of wine, poke my rump out and slowly back away to savor said wine only to do it all over again….like one hundred more times. I don’t blame you for questioning my sanity, I mean what’s not to love and desire about that?

I know some people love it; love the free snacks, the meeting up with others ITB, (ugh) the being away from work for a couple hours and schmoozing with sales reps or winemakers but it simply drives me batshit. I try, I really do but I spend the duration of these events feeling squished, aware of just how chunky my backing up ass is, rolling my eyes at the, “look how much I know and I am going to stand here, at the front of the table, unwilling to move until you admire my knowledge” crank yankers that insist one of the wines is corked…of course, just wishing I were back at the store. So not my scene and not at all a way for me to truly evaluate wine.

Sure I can swirl, sniff, slurp and spit with the rest of them, been at this long enough to have the basics down, to fit in with my fellow squished tasters but I find myself in the same goddamn quandary once I leave and am face to face with Randy at the shop, “So what was fantastic?” he always probes…his face all lit up waiting to hear. “Um, I’ll have to check my notes” is all I can ever give him. No rattling off or gooing over one wine or another. No long descriptions, no chatter about this vintage as opposed to last. Just a tasting sheet with stars and me with a crunched face wanting to go home and wash the squish off me.

Been going to more over the past year. Just making an effort to support my favorite importers, distributors and sales reps but I always go knowing that this is more of a preliminary tasting for me. I’ll taste a few wines from each estate just to get a feel for the house style or vintage and if I find something that piques my interest I will tell my rep and ask that they bring the wines by the shop so I can really taste them. Call me crazy but I just can’t get quite enough out of a wine, in that setting, to get all weak in the knees or even really commit to buying it for The Wine Country. I mean, I’m huffing hostess and tasting like how many wines, interspersed between bits of rind scented olive, (and restaurateurs, I get that they look lovely, taste nice and all but YOU try tasting Marsannay rouge after eating one of those fuckers) focused more on not bumping, spilling or getting the “look at me” guy's spit on my mug. Not really conducive to wine appreciation for me.

I love wine. I’m not talking just love, I’m talking I can have a very physical and or emotional reaction to wine when given the time to really explore it. Now I’m never going to be one of those cats that requests a whole bottle sample to take home and spend the night with. Just not built that way and I appreciate that suppliers have only so many samples and need to see as many people as they can with them. I can share. Fine with that actually but I just need a few more minutes, just a little more time to spend with my nose in the glass. A few focused moments where I can just shut the clutter out, the schmoozing, the mélange of hair gel and “hostess” just close my eyes, let my mind, nose and tongue uncover all that the wine has to offer. Just like speed dating makes no sense to me, speed or power tasting leaves me flat and aching for something….

Always with the lips. I always start at the lips. My face close and slowly taking in every tiny pore, the pattern of facial hair. My lips wet as my heart races and I move even closer, the sound of my own breath setting the pace as I move from the mouth to the neck and up to the earlobe. The scraping of my teeth along the freshly shaven or not shaven at all jaw, the way his body begins to stiffen and soften. My hands moving up the chest, my fingers taking in every bump either caused by my touch or there years before me. Reading his stomach and chest with my hands, memorizing the way his skin leaks into my fingertips….the sounds of his breath quickening, the sting of my teeth digging into my bottom lip as I remove his shirt and let my eyes fall upon the flesh that my fingers have been studying. The almost tortuously deliberate pace, the purposeful delaying. The bend of a kneecap, the imperfect patches of skin, the shaking when I press my lips along his hip, trace his ribcage with my nails, the hands digging into my back as I let my nose and cheek run along his thighs. Me devouring, investigating, chronicling each little bit….the voice, the smells, the skin, him. I want to know, see, taste, smell all of him, remember him before I can even completely succumb to him.

This, this is how I make love and as I said, I love wine….cannot imagine giving it any less thought than I would anything else I might think about letting slip inside me. Maybe it’s a chick thing and wine ladies feel free to chime in here, but I just can’t separate my passion, my desire, my want, the way I love, make love, am made love to from the things that made me want to be there in the first place. It takes more than a look, more than a smile…I need more to move me, I need time to keep me reaching up that shirt, for that next sip. I would never go on a blind date with a man my friend met in the checkout line at the grocery store so I have to wonder, why would anyone take wine advice from someone that attended a mass tasting?

Just sayin’


Thomas said...

It's not a chick thing, Sam.

Trade tastings were always like torture for me, no matter which side of the table I was on, and I've worked both sides.

Samantha Dugan said...

Bit of a buzzy rant for me. This is why I should never go near my laptop after 3 Gin & Tonics. Strangely enough there seems no place I would rather be than at my laptop after 3 Gin & Tonics. Just had to cover up the post that was making people cry....

All that being said I do truly dislike trade events. Half the people there are there to been seen, taste just the rare shit and leave or know so little it makes me cringe. I watched one guy on Thursday tell the supplier, "You might want to check that bottle, it's not fresh" supplier tastes the wine, "No, that's how it should be" and I watched the guy walk off laughing to his friends about how little the guy behind the table knew and that he was pouring an oxidized wine. Never mind that it was from Jura...jackhole, the wine was perfect. Another one, one of the guys that was there to teach his young staff member said while tasting through a Chablis producers wines, "Their Chablis in France is much better than the Chablis we make here. They use better clones".....grumble. I wish I could just close all of that out but I simply can't.

Thomas said...

The best that I saw, not heard, at a trade tasting was the retailer who was so drunk he stumbled down the up escalator and then did a swirling dance and fell on his face.

But I have numerous stories concerning trade tastings, like the guy who tasted a Finger Lakes Riesling that I poured and that I knew the technical acidity level to be high; after swirling and swallowing, he proclaimed the wine flabby, needing more acidity, and then saying to the guy with him that he has always said this is the trouble with Finger Lakes Riesling--low acidity, which is like saying that winter in the region isn't cold.

Valerie said...

Thank God I'm an old retired broad and can just pursue my passion without the pressure of 'building my career' ITB. The 'gentleman' grabbing his crotch at Merano last year made me really ask myself, "What IS it you think you're doing here again?"

Dragging junior viticulture and enology classmates through VinItaly & helping them with their assigned varietals made me realize: Hey, man - I just love wine and want to share with those who want to learn more. I want to make wine approachable for those intimidated by the wall of wine, or teach someone that there is life beyond "white zinfandel."

I poured at a few small tastings last year and found that talking about the wines and with folks and distributor was much more my speed - more intimate, less orgy. I'd much rather interact with the woman that came in the door that said she "didn't drink reds" and left with three bottles of a simple Primitivo, than deal with the posers & pretentious know-it-alls - and leave with hurriedly scribbled tasting notes I can't read when I get home.

And for f***'s sake don't rush me through my tasting - I'm not a machine. And don't touch me.

Nancy Deprez said...

Love your description of the trade tasting, all so true. I don't love them but I do like them sometimes as I like being close to the winemakers, meeting them, talking to them, etc. But yes, I also don't like being spit on or trying to find a spit bucket, or having the spit bucket spit back at me, asking me "how do you like it??"

I still won't forgot going to my first trade tasting - Beaune Imports - with you - and meeting Didier Dagueneau. And tasting his wines for the first time. So I can't really hate trade tastings! :P

webb said...

I'm not- as you must know by now - ITB, but as I read the first two paragraphs my blood pressure was rising and I was feeling crowded. Cannot imagine a worse way to do anything - much less taste wine (or good chocolate). Even as a rank amateur I like to take it slowly and see what it really tastes like. I hate getting stuck at a winery in a large tasting group where I am herded from wine to wine... like a swine. I'm happy to hear you endorse taking "the long way home and taking it slow."

There are poseurs everywhere, and the bigger the crowd, the more you will find. Happy weekend.

The Sediment Blog said...

Sorry, but can you explain to people like us who are not ITB - that para about lips and jaws and skin and bend of the knee and stuff - that's happening at the tasting, right?

Samantha Dugan said...

Ah the magic that can be seen. Gotta love it right?

Oh the touching! Um, where does it say that you may kiss me and wrap your arm around my shoulder? I had the "I like being fondled by drunk assholes" tattoo removed years ago. Argh.

I do like talking to winemakers but don't find that a setting like that really allows much by way of useful or charming conversation. I know what you mean but I think I am far more grumpy than you are. I do remember you coming to that tasting, (think Chidaine and the sexy guy from Clos Marie, Christophe Peyrus were there as well) and saying something along the lines of, You are wrecked girlie. Doesn't get much better than this"

I just don't get it. I would never make love that way so why treat anything I love like that? For the record I don't eat in my car either so I might just be a freak.

The Sediment Blog,
You might have to ask the "hostess" about that....

John M. Kelly said...

You have captured perfectly why I no longer do any trade tastings. Or any of the big public tastings. So far as I am concerned wine, like sex, is best savored as a 1 on 1 experience. Makes you wonder if everyone at the big trade group gropes is a closet swinger.

Sara Louise said...

The crank yankers are exactly why I could never ever go to one of those things. Don't like crank yankers.

Eric V. Orange said...

ah, Sam, you are holding back. Tell us how you really feel..

PS. How appropriate. The word verification was wail.

tom said...


Where were you when I was young . . . .

Samantha Dugan said...

Got another one tomorrow....yay!?

Goddamn crank yankers.

I was being coy, it's part of my charm.

(Um, Blushing) Duuno, maybe gestating? Thanks for stopping by and making me blush.

Nancy Deprez said...

Wow Sam, you remember more about that Beaune tasting than I do! yes, now that you mentioned it, I do remember those other tidbits! LOL that you are more grumpy than I am... maybe but in a sweet, charming way!

Anonymous said...

At least we had fun AFTER the damn tasting. Thanks to you and Merritt for the tour of Hollywood too!

PS--LOATHE those trade tastings...


Samantha Dugan said...

You were a delight to spend time with. Don't blame us for the tour, it was that wanker at the tasting that gave us shitty directions!