Sometimes you just need a little something. Before I moved to California, it was chocolate or soda for me. But when I hit the Golden State; I was almost immediately sucked into the culture of vino.
You wouldn’t think this would be a new thing to me. I’m from Seattle, home of Chateau St. Michelle and plenty of others. There was wine a-plenty right there in my own back yard. (And you know what Dorothy said about not looking for wine any further than your own back yard. Well, basically that’s what she said.)
I enjoyed wine back home. I enjoyed it in Oregon, where my good friends Bill and Teresa are the kind of hosts who have a bottle cracked open while you’re taking your coat off and have a glass of something wonderful in your hand by the time you’re finished petting the dog. I love Bill and Teresa.
Nevertheless California is where it’s at for me winewise. It was here that I crossed over from being a whitie to a reddie. It was here that I joined my first wine club – Michel Schlumberger – and it was here that I started stockpiling good wine instead of just the cheap stuff I take to parties.
I’m still not a connoisseur. I’ll admit that I don’t get all the “notes” in every glass I try. I can usually tell whether I’m drinking something good, though, and that’s enough. As they say, I may not know wine, but I know what I like.
Sure, I’ve been known to have the occasional cocktail. There’s nothing like a good Manhattan or Martini at the right moment. And there’s nothing like a smooth Merlot (Screw you, Paul Giamatti, I like Merlot.) or a jazzy Malbec whenever. I’ve even developed a taste for a nice chilled Pinot Grigio, so I’m not ONLY a red guy. In fact, I’m sipping a really fantastic Grenache Rosé as I write this.
I remember when I had no idea there were such things as varietal rosés – and when I didn’t use terms like “varietal rosés.” Rosés were just a weird throwaway that the grocery stores stocked because – who knows why?
In the last week, I’ve had a light rosé at the Ferry Building, a smooth Pinot Noir at my favorite bistro, a spicy Zinfandel at home and this tasty Grenache Rosé this evening. Wine is relaxing where cocktails are driven. Wine says, “Let’s sit down, chat and really get to know one another.” Cocktails say, “Let’s get out of here and go back to my place.” Wines are subtle. Cocktails put on a floor show. (With luck, you’re not the one on the floor.) Wine needs to be experienced a lot to be fully appreciated. I’m doing my best to experience as much as can.
Wine is a way to make friends or keep them. Show up at most people’s houses with a bottle of good wine and you’ve set the stage for some real communication – that you may or may not remember in the morning. When my friend Dave and I aren’t arguing politics on Facebook, we’re hashing out the relative merits of red vs white wine. We haven’t convinced one another of anything on either front, but we keep drinking and typing.
I had to mature before I could really appreciate wine. When I turned 21, I was all about the sweet drinks, then the sweet wines. Now if I sip something that doesn’t suck all the moisture out of my mouth, I’m an unhappy guy. I like ’em dry.
All right, I’m done singing the praises of the grape. The grape! I never talked about “the grape” until I moved to SF, either. Now I’ve got at least some of the snootiness that you’d expect from constant wine drinkers.
Hey, that reminds me, I’ve got a dark and oaky Cabernet opened at home. What the hell am I doing here?