Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wine...It's Not Just Old Grape Juice

Wine. It's like grape juice that sits in the basement for a long time, right?

That's what I thought until last night, when I went to a girls' wine tasting party put on by my friends Katie and Teri.

Now, I've been to a wine tasting before at a liquor store, but I was too preoccupied with the spit buckets and pieces of dry white bread set out to pay attention. This must be what prison is like, I thought. To which I'm sure incarcerated people everywhere are saying, "Yes, prison is exactly like an elegant wine tasting, you spoiled, little $%#!"

Beer, on the other hand, requires artisanship. While making softball shirts for dads everywhere, brewers have to cold filter--never heat pasturize--the beverage, and choose from only the finest hops and barley. They must manufacture the beer in the Land of Sky Blue Wa-ha-ter. Wa-ha-ter. At least, that's what I've gathered from watching beer ads.

American beer tells the story of the immigrant spirit, wild and wooly cities, family tragedy, prohibition and the power of advertizing. In other countries, monks drank beer during Lent for strength and Bavarians drink it like big gulps for lunch. And yet, wine gets all the attention.

Last night, I began to understand what all the fuss was about. This wine tasting was a class act--totally spittoon-free. There was cheese and sourdough bread and cheese soup and grapes and chocolate and hostesses with the mostesses, of course, good friends, which makes everything taste better.

Megan, the wine consultant, taught us to enjoy the wine with all our senses. For the first wine, we saw the silvery color, smelled the white flowers and tasted the old grape juice--I mean Italian Pinot Grigio.

The next wine was a South African Souvignon Blanc.

"Do you taste minerals?" she asked. "South African soil is high in minerals from the limestone."

I'll have to ask my sons what limestone tastes like. I'm sure they've licked rocks. They've eaten dirt, so why not?

Another wine had an oaky taste, Megan said.

Katie asked what oak tasted like.

Maybe instead of having dry bread, serious wine tasting venues should set out rocks and oak leaves for people to taste between sips. For comparison purposes.

The second and third wines were a taste sensation. One smelled like 5-Alive and the other like church, but because of their flavor, I would definitely have them sponsor my softball team if I were a dad.

By number four and five, I was too enthralled in conversation with my friend Keli and the other girls to even know if the wine smelled like pasta salad or Elm trees. They both tasted like cheddar, possibly due to the thousands of cheese and crackers I had devoured.

As we taste-tested the wine, we talked about kids and fate and religion and family and how aromas can take you back to places you don't even remember except for their smell. Some of the women came from jobs where people are dying of cancer. Others held the burden of sorrow in their arms like a baby that can never be laid down. Mostly, though, we laughed.

Toward the end of the night, Megan taught us that the worst growing conditions make the best wine. Rocky, dry landscapes punish the fruit until only the fiestiest survive. And a new bottle of wine is born.

It works sort of like friendship.

I guess I misspoke when I called wine old grape juice. When you know more about it, you see why wine commands so much respect. And I'll drink a beer to that.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great commentary! And as usual, so funny! Glad you had fun with your great friends! Time to get into our lederhosen! Mom

10:26 AM  
Anonymous PVD said...

I'm glad you"slept in" this morning Bridget. It must have been all that grape juice!
PVD

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to drink wine with you soon! erin

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hysterical and a little tear jerker for me...love your comparison to friendship. CHEERS! lib

8:02 PM  

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