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what you’re drinking

In this is juice not rocket science on December 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm

You: Which one of these wines do you like?

Me: Who, little ol’ me? Well, I like all of them at one point or another. But I’m not drinking your glass of wine.

Harsh? Probably, especially when you pose this question so earnestly, implying I’m at your house now, and I trust you’ll give me something fun to play with.

(While I do appreciate this blind vote of confidence, you should not so easily trust every dude standing behind a bar. There are a lot of Incompetent Jackholes out there, such as the one who assured me that the smell of jasmine-crusted Band-Aids was the “barnyard funk” typical of sangiovese – pronounced san-gee-oh-veee-seee. No, that’s just Brett run amuck, you ignorant twat.)

But let’s be honest: your question derives from self-consciousness vis-à-vis your less-than-discerning palate rather than from an instinctive trust of mine. If I tell you right now that I’m drinking chardonnay, you’ll likely leap at this universally recognized grape, never mind that what I’m actually referring to – if you’d give me a chance to explain – is Jura chardonnay with a bit of savagnin and flor in the mix, meaning that it’s more akin to Jerez than California.

That’s probably not what you want. But the long list of bizarre words with multiple accents overwhelms you. By deferring the decision to me you have relieved yourself of the burden of thought; after all, you came here to drink not think. You pose this question so apathetically, implying I don’t particularly care what’s in the glass as long as it’s full and doesn’t cost more than thirteen bucks.

That’s fine. I don’t judge you for that. But your question does, ultimately, ask me to judge you. What you’re really saying when you ask me what do you like? is, take a look at me – what do you think I like?

While I recognize that people rarely fit into facile categories and that apparently you should never judge a book by its cover, the fact is no one reads this blog so I can do as I damn well please.

Who cares what I’m drinking? Here’s what you’re drinking…

…if you’re on a first date*:

Guy– Red, full bodied & earthy, preferably with aggressive tannins. You can blame them for your inability to keep up a lively conversation – how can you talk when your mouth is puckering so? Here, have this Agiorgitiko from Neméa. You can talk about how you’ve never heard of it, but it’s quite good – even if you can’t pronounce it! Isn’t that interesting?

Girl– Red, light & fruity. What’s that? You think the Zweigelt is too sour? I’ll bring you a white, you know that’s what you really want – red does tend to give you a headache. Have this Moschofilero. Look at that – you’re both drinking Greek wine! You must be a good match.

*Is this as painful for you as it is for me?

…if you’re meeting the Ladies while your husband watches the kids*:

By the glass – Gruner Veltliner. Or something similarly pleasant and easy drinking with just enough substance to make you feel sophisticated – but not so much that you have to think about it in between glugs. Feeling a little crazy? Here’s a Portuguese white that tastes like Sauvignon Blanc – but isn’t!

By the bottle – Nothing. Why would you order a bottle when you only really want one glass? Ok, maybe two. You can’t drink as much as you used to, what with the kids and all. Or at least that’s what you told me, six glasses ago. Lo and behold, you just singlehandedly drank two bottles of Gruner. Good job.

*Next time, do me a favour and order a magnum.

if you fancy yourself a connoisseur*:

White – Sancerre. Why say “Sauvignon Blanc” when you can say “Sancerre”? Look at you, nodding your head in recognition. You’re soooo beyond that Marlborough brand – those Kiwis really don’t understand the importance of restraint, do they? Never mind that’s how you got hooked on the grape. You’ve since changed allegiances, but for some reason you still think it’s ok to talk about gooseberries.

Red –  Valpolicella, preferably Ripasso. I’m not sure why you feel the need to explain to me what ripasso means, but let me tell you how enlightening your lecture was. Wow, the grapes are dried on mats? And refermented on Amarone must? Yea, that’s why I chose it for you – because its richness and intensity will be familiar and comforting to your pathetic palate.

*You’re not.

if  you’re a Bro turned Wall Street Banker*

Red – Malbec. Don’t worry, I’ll get you the Mendoza stuff – I won’t try to slip some Cahors past you. It’s not worth my time.

Something else – Nope.

*You’ve  (temporarily) traded Jack for juice, but you’re not fooling anyone – once a Bro, always a Bro.

Of course this is no definitive portrait of NYC drinkers, just a small sampling. For wherever there is wine list featuring more than two options, you’ll find  insufferable indecisiveness. Judge on.


back to basics

In this is juice not rocket science on September 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Much attention is given to the proper pre-sip swirl of wine: will people think I’m a lush if I just immediately drink the stuff? Will I look pretentious if I swirl and sniff? For how long do I need to swirl?

(Possibly/Almost definitely/Just long enough to think up several exotic fruits, flowers, and some incomprehensible term that sounds vaguely French.)

But let’s take a step back. We give too much credit to most wine-drinkers by assuming they know how to hold its vessel.

Yes, I mean most people don’t know how to hold a fucking cup.

A wine glass has a bowl. That’s where the wine goes. It also has a stem. That’s where your hand goes.

My father taught me this simple yet crucial posture when he poured me my first glass of wine. Since he has been drinking the same piss-flavoured lager for the past twenty-five years, I assumed the hand-to-stem connection was something universally understood, like the roundness of the earth and the superiority of Old Bay over every other spice.

Turns out it’s not.

I know it’s a lot to take in, but the stem is there for a reason. You needn’t fear crushing it with the Superman-like strength of your thumb and forefinger. Trust me. And if there’s no stem, it’s because you mistakenly believe that the “streamlined, modern” design of the stemless glass somehow makes up for the liquid buttered toast you’re knocking back. It doesn’t. And no, that Mason jar gives you no hipster cred – but you have just entered a whole new realm of douchebaggery.

I’m not asking much. Go ahead, keep drinking that fruit roll-up of a wine – but move your hand down a few inches so I can at least pretend you have a modicum of sense. And it’s not only for my sake. Your inexplicable stranglehold of the bowl indicates that the game hasn’t even started and you’ve already lost. The smallest of changes will instantly move you up the ranks of wine drinkers – you’ve left the “I’m out of college and now I drink wine from a bottle, not a box” category and progressed to the slightly higher “I guess I don’t have to put ice cubes in my pinot grigio” group.