Friday, May 12, 2006

Wine Tasting

Dear Diary,

Two days ago I went to my first real wine tasting event. I was so excited yet nervous about being surrounding by snobby middle-age high-brows. What's all the excitement about? Well, I'm not a wine afficionado and have little interest in the subject. But for the past couple of weeks I was stuck in the house, mostly confided to my office. When I would get out, it would be to get the mail or do grocery shopping or go to the blasted mall. In short, it was a typical case of cabin fever.

Now, Chris on the other hand has gotten into wine tasting. It started with a book that I got him for Christmas, "Windows on the World Complete Wine Course". Next thing I knew, my husband was leafing through the issues of Food & Wine while sipping espressos at Barnes&Noble and spending money on esoteric accessories such as a professional bottle opener and a decanter.

While working in Deland, Chris found out about the Elusive Grape wine store. He used to spend his lunch breaks there, talking to the owner, Bill, or sitting in one of the overstuffed chair in the back of the store with an old issue of a Wine Spectator. Most of the time he would emerge from the store carrying a brown paper bag with a bottle or two. Chris even signed up for a 5-week Wine Appreciation course at a local community college. And so our spare closet was converted into a wine-cellar, our Wednesday nights at B&N were moved to Thursdays, and our wine glasses were filled with Merlots, Shirazes, and Cabernets on most evenings.

And that's how we ended up at the Elusive Grape's wine event a couple of days ago. We paid $10 each, got our glasses and duly entered our names in a raffle. Inside, a 100 or so people, all middle-aged and all with glasses in hand, were standing in the ailes between the wine racks, crowding around the counter, occupying every nook and crany of the lounge, and even spilling over to the sidewalk and into the back alley. Deland is a small town and most of the guests knew not only each other, but each other's friends, bosses, and most family members several generations back. We were clearly the outsiders. Feeling slightly (read: very) uncomfortable in this convivial atmosphere, I was pretending to study the labels while tasting some red wine. As I said, I can't tell the difference between a Merlot and a Cabernet, nor can I taste smoky flavor, ripe cherries, leather or any other tastes that supposedly are present in wine (I guess part of the problem is that I never bothered to spend time munching on BBQ chips or licking leather belts). My wine descriptives are generally limited to "dry, spicy, sweet, fruity, watery, and bitter". If it's not too dry or bitter, it's a good wine as far as I'm concerned. (here's a good article).

Nevertheless, things started looking up as I discovered the Chocolate Amore, a dessert Merlot with a distinct flavor and taste of all the warmth and spicyness of a raising-and-hazelnut dark chocolate bar. Now, that was a find worth the money! Perfectly content, I retired to the lounge with my perfect wine while Chris was breaking "one bottle at a time" rule and buying half the store's inventory. I forgave him for his acquisition included a bottle of my new chocolate obsession.

Soon enough we started some perfectly delightful and non-commital conversation with some perfectly middle-aged people. Hours later we emerged from the store into the perfect summery breeze and quietness, walked along the perfectly quaint streets of Downtown Deland back to our perfect little economy-size answer to the rising gas prices, and drove 30 perfectly safe miles back to our perfectly simple and inviting house.