She sloshed her drink about, not at all privy to her wine spilling as she yelled at him. Her glass was full, then suddenly not. He was quite the bastard, apparently. He “didn’t sleep with her anymore,” he “drank from the milk carton” and his “feet smelled of some fungus” she could only attribute to a mushroom. The wine was helping her elucidate just how much this had bugged her. And she was reminding him of it in front of everyone. It was a laugh for some of us, an excuse to leave early for the rest of us. Still, there were others who had other problems on their mind, they had seemed to forget how to stand upright. Further, for some reason or another she was quite upset that a man at the party was wearing a pair of snake-skinned boots that went up to about here. This aggravation quickly escalated to her fumbling about with the gentleman on the floor, attempting to remove them for him herself. He was unwilling. Apparently, they were a gift. She didn’t get them, but that hardly stopped them from disappearing some time later in the evening as he lay benumbed in the stairwell. It was sometime in the morning when those boots were seen again. They were in the middle of the road. It was apparent they would never be the same again, torn as they were.
There’s that same wine stain on the carpet that still reminds me of that moment. It was a fine moment. The kind of moment you tell at lunch to get some cheap laughs in an otherwise awkward chat. Everything has a more comical edge once in hindsight.
It was Christmas, 1995. Aunt Raneé brought out this quizzical drink called “champagne.” It looked like ginger ale, but somehow more intriguing, somehow glistening more brightly. I had never seen her laugh so hard. She was stoic as they had come. But suddenly she was going on and on about sledding in the back yard. She had no yard to speak of, not even to mention the lack of a hill. She was wearing her finest silk dress, but was quite insistent on barrel rolling out there despite the screaming cold of the air and the stinging chill of the falling snow. My father gave an extra firm grip as he pulled her in. Ranée husband was sure as hell not up for dealing with her protestations. He read some sportsman magazine through the ordeal, as was his wont during gatherings.
My parents were devout to their religion. Whatever that means; I’ve never been sure. They had no alcohol in the home and never partook even for the most celebratory of occasions. Even a benign prescription from the family doctor for my mother to drink beer for her urinary tract infection was heeded with immense suspicion. Apparently it was the scandal of the neighborhood. But everyone outside of our direct contact had elongated bottles in racks, tin Budweiser in the refrigerator and a special cabinet for a litany of elegant glassware.
My father had an odd glow about him during this party. I didn’t see anything odd going on before hand to suggest a reason for such a look…but there it was. My father had one look; it was a amalgam of stern, easy-breezy forwardness and writhe with a tension that could burst any minute.
I was giving the eye to one of these glasses of champagne that was sitting alone on the edge of the table. I wondered what secrets it held. Why the worry? The fuss? It was truly one of the great mysteries of the world to me. My father nudged me on the shoulder and slid the glass closer to me. I didn’t take it, of course. He was prone to inducing entrapment. When he saw I was having none of it, he handed it to me instead. What’s a boy suppose to do? And this is when I first had a taste of alcohol. The thing they called champagne. It fizzled and tickled and tasted of gold. It was disgusting as all hell. It had this mineral kind of a tinge, like a dry rock I once had to lick during dare.
It was something I hated, of course, but would love (and strive to drink) today. Even then, I knew that something was going on here. The taste has never left my memory.
My sister finked on us to my mother the minute she set foot in the door. She was being moral. I understand that. But, really, she was a boiling pot of jealousy. And I understand that.
2009 Côtes du Rhône Domaine la Garrigue Cuvée Romaine
No longer the great find of last year. I’m stunned and slightly perplexed. The slight effervescence this wine exhibited throughout the many bottles from this same vintage tasted has somehow grown stronger. It’s been six months since the last bottle opened. Now the bubbles and fizz has burst open, almost to the point of being cloying. Furthermore, the dark and tannic nature has deepened, not quelled. It’s as if the wine as a far journey to go yet, but the effervescence is quite troubling. It’s very nexus is a schizophrenic, wanting to go this way and that.
Something is telling me the wine has gone past its prime and is descending into vinegar territory.
A glass the next evening turned out to give a more prudent nature to the wine. The fizz was gone, the tannins brought down the earth and the ink-y, full bodied nature more like a folk lullaby than a rock stadium.
Still hanging on Worthy.
I’m reminded of Donovan’s lyrics from his hit song “Atlantis.” “Way down below the ocean / where I want to be / she may be.” Forgetting any connections you may link with inebriation to being underwater, I find myself looking to wine in the same way Donovan may have looked for a deeper mode of being. For a woman or for life, it was never very clear. For a time lost, never to return. Or it could be that he was wishing to flee to somewhere you could never normally be. Maybe this was love. Perhaps this was why we love anything at all. It’s way down there, where we want to be.
It’s no secret that the masses for over a millennia have being using wine, beers and other such spirits to escape the every day drudgery. It’s not all drudgery, however. That’s especially true in today’s world. And yet we’re always searching; either that or we’re running away en masse. Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
And I have to wonder why we seek inebriation time and time again. It can be a Pavlovian response, if you want it to be. Or you could take the scientific route and say that our brains are constantly looking out for altered states of consciousness as a method of evolution. They had said that, hadn’t they? That what’s challenging to our brains is something that life in general seeks? Like sifting through, possibly helpful, mutations. A way of weaving out the weak from the strong, the benefit or deficit? Or it could be that we’re wandering about with our hands out in front of us searching through a sheet dark ethereal fog. We take a plunge and hope to find something to cling onto. But do we see anything on that black and bleak horizon? Some point of light so far into the distance we can scarcely make out a pigment of color, a shape or contour?
That’s what’s so evocative about wine. You might be able to get a glimpse of what’s going on, but it’s otherwise inexplicable.
Other than wine’s sensual and artistic appeal, i’ll be the first to admit that’s not why I always reach out for that extra glass. In fact, I don’t know what’s in an inebriation. It feels great, but what am I getting at? Where am I sinking to? Where am I running away to? If it’s all about pleasure, then why can it bring so much turmoil? And we seek this out. I’m telling you, we’re a mad bunch. Mad.
2011 Amberhill Secret Blend
A little plum, a little lavender on the nose. An interesting acidity with a medium body feel. Dark enough to enjoy for a glass, interesting once a good amount of air gets in there. It’s like a truly good joke that dies along with your buzz. That’s to say, it was still a damned good joke.
He was going on and on about his travels from Taiwan, to Hong Kong, Kathmandu, Moscow and Ontario. I don’t talk much. I listen. This was fine way to pass the evening with people you otherwise indifferent to. The chap was obviously well versed in the nuances of his own travels, and I was learning quite a bit. There’s a catch-22 here, however. I would never had stuck around to listen about the lengthy travel campaign if it weren’t for wine. Yet, I was quite out-of-sorts about something or other from earlier in the day and had many drinks, thus, was fascinated by all he was telling me; about where to get the best Pad Thai in some foreign outskirts of a popular tourist trap, or how to live cheaply in Madrid. It was all pieces of advice I would have loved to heed and utilize, but I could only remember little of it the next day. Even now, the three hour tale of his journeys only seem like an absurdest, abstract painting.
2009 Eyrie Vineyards Pinot Noir
Pale garnet in the glass with some brown at the fringe. A darker nose, light touches of cherry. A cool wine that moves through the mouth like a breeze. Odd for a pinot, the dark and heavy back-end it has. It’s got almost nothing in the front, only a smidgen of detail in the mid, but it furnishes a relaxing, long linger in the back of the throat.
I’m not sure if this wine would benefit from a longer staging. It seems like a peak has already come and past, only whispering now of what it was.
It’s a good overall wine, but I hesitate to say it’s a representation of pinot noir.
We we’re discussing the future. How uncertain it was and is and always will be. On and on about that, well into the night. It’s hard talking about what’s most dear, most secret and most potent. Because that’s all you have that is dear and sacred. Luckily wine is there. Wine allows that thin mask that everyone tend to prominently display in front of them to be temporarily tossed and forgotten. You could call it being more human. But I won’t pretend to know that’s the answer to that question. It could be more inhuman. All I know is that it breaks some boundaries well enough for such a reserved person, such as myself, to trust in someone enough to take advice.
And advice I got. We split a bottle of the finest bottle from my collection. We philosophized and dissected everything that’s been wrong and could go wrong and will be wrong. Like a lecture of the geological approximation of a devastating earthquake; it could be soon, far off, never happen, or be nothing but pure conjecture. And that’s how deep and meaningful situations in life go. It’s a ball of uncertainty. One in which wine helps quell, sift through and provide insight.
Life does not need wine. But it’s these small, nearly insignificant moments within life that can be given a soupçon of alleviation, a dash of intrigue or release that wine can provide. To experience wine, and how we as a culture utilize it, is inheritanly human. And how I’ve loved my moments with it.