12 August 2008

Wine Whine

Speaking of conversations that provide too much information...

I'll never forget a particular winery hopping trip. There were four of us on the North Fork of Long Island, where there are wineries approximately every 207 feet. Or closer. Get a ruler.

Anyway, the four of us like wine and we even know a thing or two about it. We look and act reasonably respectable and, with regard to wine, if we like it, we buy it, unless it's way overpriced. Generally, we have a grand time but there was this experience...

We'd already spent a day winery hopping and got up, had a leisurely breakfast and went to the first winery on our list for the new day. We went up to the tasting area, plunked our money down, and were presented with wine glasses and tasting information sheets.

Wine flunky: Welcome to X Winery. My name is Grizzela. For this tasting, *points to sheet* we'll be going through the four on the front left of your sheet and these five on the back.

The first wine
*holds bottle up but does not pour* is our Lemmings Lament. The Lemmings Lament is our most popular white. It is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Petit Verdot and is stored in stainless steel for 2 months prior to being moved to a lemming's bladder for final fermentation.

It has won the coveted Governor's Gold in 2001 and the less coveted Mailman's Local #38 Bronze in 2002. It also won the Wine Bedazzler Medal of Distinction in four categories--including Color Not Found in Nature and Chubby Legs--in 2002. Snooty Wines Monthy called it "Unusual."

When you taste this, you will first notice a funny tingling in the front of your tongue. That's from a happy accident--we inadvertently dusted rat poison on the ground around the Petit Verdot. We were going to scrap the harvest but were so delighted with the effect that we decided to raise the price. I think you'll be pleased.

With the tingle, you'll get a hint of nutmeg and asphalt and then a burst of grapefruit, fig, and leather with a final nuance of envelope glue. Now if you swirl it around, you'll also get remarkable overtones of ink, Hungarian paprika, and Vicks VapoRub.

It has a loooong finish and will repeat on you but in a way I think you'll find amusing.

Lemmings Lament is suitable for serving with camembert, Prince Edward Island mussels, and kumquats.

It has a residual sugar level of 3.14159265.

The bottler's name was Alfonso.

The label was designed by our own Letitia Figglesby, and depicts a lemming being torn asunder by the winery dog, Mr. Itchy.

*places bottle down and picks up second bottle*
Now the second wine on the list is our Sing-Sing Sensation...

We stand there, dismayed. Grizzela continues to share way too much information and, apparently, is intent on describing every last wine to the nth degree before we get a drop. As if we're even going to remember what she said 40 minutes ago when she started. I lose it. I interrupt while she is over-pronouncing "terroir."

Me, doing my Suzanne Sugarbaker impression: Excuse me!

Grizzela: Yes?

Me: I'd like to try the first wine.

Grizzela: I usually go through the whole list first.

Me: Sorry, there's no way I'm going to remember most of that. I'd rather hear any description you have to offer after I've tried the wine. I like to develop my own impressions.

Grizzela: *blink*

Me: *not blinking* *pushing glass forward*

Grizzela: Okay.

Me: Thank you.

Most wine flunkies know better than to do what Grizzela did, but I'll offer this unsolicited advice anyway: We know you know about these particular wines, or should, because that's your job, so you don't need to prove to us how much you know. If you want to talk about the wine, that's great. Be brief--just the basics--and do it while you are pouring. Then, let people taste the wine before you tell them what specific under- and overtones you think they ought to taste. Then be ready to answer more specific questions. This allows people to develop their tasting abilities and it's a heck of a lot more fun that way. And for heaven's sake, give Mr. Itchy a worm pill.


Jamie said...

Hahaha!! That cracked me up, especially Grizella's analysis of the bouquet. I went to a wine tasting recently at Vinoteca where we were urged to appreciate the strong petroleum smell that accompanied some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. I was tempted to ask him if he could recommend a good New Jersey white that might offer a complex aroma of landfill over oil depot.

Narm said...

Mmmmmmmmm...rat poison.

Gilahi said...

I had the opposite problem at a big todo thrown by my company once. The waiter came around with bottles and asked if I wanted wine. I asked what was being offered. He proudly held out both hands before solemnly intoning, "Red... AND white."

Thanks for narrowing that down for me, Skippy.

Kristen said...

I freaking love that you did that.

Shut. up. and pour that stuff!

Reya Mellicker said...

My, my some people are so controlling! We attended a wine tasting like that, in which the wine "expert" hijacked the group into listening to him drone on and on and on, all of us just wanting to try the wine first.

rs27 said...

Grizzela is such a showoff.

restaurantrefugee said...

I always ran my staff through the new wines on the list at our Saturday staff meetings. Every so often after tasting and discussing a new wine, I would ask if anyone "got the notes of vulcanized rubber" or some other ridiculous flavor. Invariably the new person would always nod in agreement and say something along the lines of "I totally taste that now." The rest of the staff would start laughing as they knew this was an exercise to encourage independent thought.

Wine people who attempt to dictate what you taste are morons.

lacochran's evil twin said...

Jamie: :) Hm, maybe I won't rush to Vinoteca.

Narm: Yummy!

Gilahi: It's bad when the label just says "Red Wine" and nothing else.

Kristin: As Chekhov would say, if you're going to show me wine in the first act, plan on pouring it by the third.

Reya: It's true. I can always tell when people have control issues because they start pushing my own inflated control issue buttons.

Rs27: Grizzela failed to receive enough attention as a child.

RestaurantRefugee: If you had done that to me, it certainly would have encouraged a number of independent thoughts. About you.