I did that. Did I do that?

22 Nov

Have I mentioned that Alan and I enjoy wine? I would go so far as to say we’re oenophiles, but then I’d have to pronounce it. And as I’ve stated before, I’m not so hot when it comes to zee French.

We’ve each had our fair share of ridiculously amazing bottles, but we’re open to trying just about anything, as long as it’s wet and made from grapes. I momentarily forgot that last week after we drove from Urbanna to Williamsburg. We’d been in the car for an hour when we saw a sign pointing down a dirt road for the Williamsburg Winery. When Alan asked if I wanted to go, I made a weird gargling sound before saying, “Nah! Virginia wines aren’t very good.”

Fortunately, Alan ignored me and made the turn. But – because he’s a nice guy – he immediately stopped and, before proceeding, said, “Your call. But it’s a gorgeous day. Want to just check it out?”

When presented that way, how could I say no? Yet I continued to hem and haw as we drove through the vineyards on our way to the winery. “My thing with tastings,” I explained (because I always have a thing), “Is that I feel obligated to buy something. And if the wine sucks, I don’t want to. So I feel guilty, like one of those people who eats samples at Whole Foods as their dinner.”

Alan, being level-headed and understanding, said, “Let’s just check it out. If there’s a paid tasting, maybe we can do that without you feeling guilty. And if not, we can bail.” Good plan. And as it turns out? They did offer a paid tasting – $10 per person with a tour of the cellar and tastes of seven different wines — plus a few bonus pours.

I won’t keep you in suspense: I loved it. Who cares if Virginia will never be Napa? Not me. It was a gorgeous fall day – crisp breeze, bright blue sky, colorful trees, temperature somewhere around 65. And a retired college professor from William & Mary who loved wine was doing the talking and pouring. What’s not to like?

As an added bonus, there were three other couples participating in the tasting with us. When one of the women asked if the tasting would feature any White Zinfandels (because those are her favorite), Alan and I shared a look that – had it been accompanied by a visible thought bubble – would’ve said, “Bless her heart.” Someone observing us would’ve had their own thought bubble that said, “Look at those snobs. Must be from DC.”

Being simultaneously aware of both conclusions, I decided to keep my mouth shut for fear of ruining someone else’s experience or making myself look like an ass. Fortunately, Alan was on the same page, because we enjoyed the tasting in silence, scribbling our tasting notes on a piece of paper rather than making nerdy comments about legs and noses.

We were rewarded for our restraint. The woman who liked White Zinfandel asked if there would be an ice wine on the tasting, because she LOVES the sweetness of dessert wines. The guide pulled out something sweet and started to pour.

“Now those are supposed to be served cold, right?” she asked.

The guide nodded, but before he could elaborate, she hopped back in, “That’s right! I sometimes put mine in the freezer to make sure they’re extra cold.” She looked conspiratorially at everyone as if sharing a secret tip.

The guide’s eyebrows lifted. “Actually,” he said gently, “You should never put a wine in the freezer. It ruins the structure to chill it that fast.”

The woman got a look on her face that reminded me of Kristin Wigg’s character (Penelope) on SNL, and started speaking quickly. “Oh wow. Put it in the freezer? I did that? Did I do that?” She looked at her husband to save her, as if a word from him would erase her admitted sin. Then shaking her head, she concluded, “No. I can’t believe I would’ve done that.”

Alan and I exchanged another glance and I made a note on my tasting sheet: CRAZY? <– Alan nodded.

Mew. Mew. Mew. Make room for Popeye.

After the tasting, Alan and I decided to enjoy the gorgeous day by sitting on the vineyard’s terrance, sharing a plate of local charcuterie. (Me with the French!) The winery has a few dozen cats that roam around, and four of them quickly surrounded our table, subtly begging. (I love the way cats beg. The surround you but refuse to make eye contact or otherwise acknowledge you. It’s like mafia intimidation.)

Being a cat lover, I promptly named all the cats and kept trying to trick them into letting me pet them. Alan is NOT a cat lover, so he kept rolling his eyes and arguing with the names I gave them. “Popeye?” he would ask, scrutinizing the black cat with only one functional eye, upon whom I bestowed that moniker. “Why Popeye? Why not Scrappy?”

“Duh,” I told him. “Because he doesn’t look like he’s missing an eye. He looks like he’s squinting one eye because he’s busy chewing spinach with the other side of his face.”

Alan stared at me. “Last time I checked, cats don’t EAT spinach.”

Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. “Most cats don’t. But this one clearly does. Why else would he make that face?”

Alan shook his head, but I think it was because I’d stumped him with my logic.

About this time, the sweet wine lover lady walked by. As I leaned over to entice four cats to beg for a bite of parma ham by singing to them, I saw her jab her husband in the ribs and point at us. I am pretty sure her thought bubble said, “Wow. They know wine AND cats adore them? How lucky are THEY?”

But that’s just a hunch.

Separately: If anyone writes a song and titles it “Sweet Wine Lover Lady,” I will use this blog’s timestamp as proof of my copyright to claim my royalties.  Just so you’ve been warned.

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12 Responses to “I did that. Did I do that?”

  1. John November 23, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Unexpected fun detours are the best, aren’t they?

    • pithypants November 23, 2011 at 11:07 am #

      They can be. Unless they involve a cliff or a jail cell.

  2. Alicia Farmer November 23, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    loved this post, not least of all because I quick chilled a bottle of white by throwing it in the freezer for 10 minutes the other night. It was just for me, though, so any ruining of its structure was lost on the audience anyway. But, note to self #1: no more wine in the freezer; use ice cubes in the glass instead. And note to self #2: Dinner for the family on Friday? Whole Foods Samples! Who knew?

    • pithypants November 23, 2011 at 11:07 am #

      You just need to have a strategy and a few fake mustaches in your pocket.

  3. dribblingpensioner November 23, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    I wrote a song with that title on the 20th 🙂

  4. cassiebehle November 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    When your ready for a truly legit winery, let me know. I’ll meet you on the outskirts of Nebraska. 😉 Great story!

    • pithypants November 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

      Nebraska??? Now I’m curious…

      • cassiebehle November 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

        It’s in a little town called Raymond. James Arthur Vineyard. The Edelweiss and White Table are amazing!

  5. Anja@ www.pcprima.de November 24, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    To put a wine bottle in a freezer is something only known in the US or putting ice cubes in a glass of wine is totally unheard of in Europe. 🙂

    Great post!

    • pithypants November 24, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      Right? We like to keep it classy in these parts.

  6. thesinglecell November 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

    I would have been staring you down from across the way over the white zinfindel/ice wine comments. I’m totally with you. God love her, she’s completely unaffected. That’s refreshing. Last night at dinner my uncle and I were talking about how dry the burgundy chardonnay was and my cousin asked what “dry” means. My uncle’s response: “You wouldn’t understand unless you drank wine.” I cringed inwardly… but he was right. Sometimes snobbery is the only option.

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